The Dog That Nino Didn't Have
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More About This Title The Dog That Nino Didn't Have


A beautiful exploration of happiness and hope

Nino doesn't have a dog, but he likes to imagine that he does. His imaginary dog chases squirrels and plays in the lake with him. His imaginary dog licks the tears off Nino's face and helps Nino feel less lonely while his dad is traveling. But when Nino gets a real dog, it's not quite what he expected. As he spends more time with his dog, though, Nino learns how to be content with what he has, but that doesn't stop him from continuing to dream.

This award-winning book beautifully depicts the art of finding a balance between imagination and reality.


Edward van de Vendel has written dozens of books for children and young adults. In 2011 and 2012 he was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. He lives in the Netherlands. Visit his website at

Anton Van Hertbruggen has illustrated two critically acclaimed books and has been published in international newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times and The New Yorker. He lives in Belgium. Visit his website at


School Library Journal
"Compelling and inviting. . . . This brief introduction to a child with a vivid imagination and a penchant for play challenges readers to search for pictorial clues that will enhance the story and make it more enjoyable."

New York Times Book Review
"Beautiful, arresting illustrations depict Nino's loneliness with a striking intensity. . . . A perceptive and moving exploration of childhood yearning."

Kirkus Reviews
"A sensitive reminder that imagination can provide comfort, though not in unlimited quantity."

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Through playful negatives and sumptuous illustrations van de Vendel and Van Hertbruggen suggest that imagination can fill the void where melancholy and longing live, coexisting with realities beyond one's control."

The Wall Street Journal
"The aching hunger for an absent father provides the emotional propulsion in [this] resonant book for young readers. . . . [an] unusual tribute to the consolations of imagination."

Booklist, starred, splash-page review
"There are plenty of picture books about finding imaginary friends, loving imaginary friends, even wistful books about letting go of imaginary friends. But few have plumbed the depths of loneliness and emotional complexity the way Van de Vendel and Van Hertbruggen do in their stunning, pithy picture book. . . . Van de Vendel's simple lines evoke a childlike logic about imagination and friendship that's well-matched by Van Hertbruggen's utterly gorgeous artwork. . . . With such gaze–worthy art, it's hard not to pore over each scene, and given the depth of detail, those long looks are rewarding. More rewarding still is the gentle, subtle, and nonjudgmental presentation of tricky feelings that will be familiar to many young readers, as well as the jubilant discovery of the joyful, comforting power of imagination."

Boston Globe
"The Dog That Nino Didn't Have is moving and unexpectedly beautiful. First there's the voice, full of negatives, which hews pretty closely, though not cloyingly, to the rhythms of child–speak. And then there's the mood, which lifts or shifts when Nino gets a real dog for his birthday. . . . But this is not a story about the triumph of the real over the imagined. Nino's dream life of animals swells in the final turn, cracking open his world and remaining true to the book's fantastic heart."