The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have

The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have
Edward van de Vendel and Anton Van Hertbruggen
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

In a woodland landscape, lives a boy named Nino. Nino has a dog – but he doesn’t – or only in his imagination. His mum can’t see the creature, nonetheless the boy, whose dad, – a pilot – is away much of the time – knows said dog listens to his dad’s long distance calls. When Nino goes into the woods, the dog copies the actions of the squirrels, it jumps on to great-gran’s lap when they go to visit her, likes the taste of salty tears

and dives into the lake when the boy goes boating.

Then one day that dog disappears and a different one with other interests takes its place; a soft, sweet pooch everybody can see.

Things feel rather different for Nino now, but nonetheless the presence of a real dog doesn’t stop him imagining a whole host of other animals and even several additional dogs.

Nino is highly imaginative – using his imagination to fill the void his father leaves during his absences and to navigate change; he’s also resilient and loves the outdoors.

This unusual, contemplative story is strange and gently powerful; the detailed illustrations predominantly in green and brown hues, brilliantly evoke a time in the recent past when children were able to play safely in the countryside without adult supervision.

A thought-provoking demonstration of the power of the imagination to help and perhaps heal in difficult times.

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