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."
"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 gazeworthy 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."
"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 childspeak. 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."