This exciting new picture book is the work of Dutch author Edward van de Vendel and from what I can tell his first to be published in English. Accompanying Vendel’s story is art from Antwerp based artist/illustrator Anton Van Hertbruggen who has produced some truly captivating images to bring this tale to life.
THE DOG THAT HE DIDN’T HAVE
HEARD WHATEVER NINO HEARD. ON THE PHONE. WITH DAD.
WHO WAS CALLING FROM A COUNTRY FAR, FAR AWAY.
When I first saw this book I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The art was so different and it contrasted heavily compared to any other picture book around. However, after I picked it up and read through to the end, I now think Vendel and Hertbruggen have gifted the world of picture books something revolutionary! The story of Nino and his imaginary dog, the dog ‘that he didn’t have’, isn’t only another testament to the power of imagination. The story touches upon many other themes that I believe picture book creators often stay clear from. Nino is lonely, he misses his father, he’s isolated, but has hope. What’s so great about this story, which makes it so revolutionary, is how this underlying plot (the absence of his father) is never resolved. Instead we see Nino learning to cope with this, as well as other issues in the real world such as his isolation, the fear of his great-grandmother, and by doing so shows a love for life in what would appear an adverse environment for a child.
This is an odd one, full of mystery and suggestion, but one which has me intrigued. I appreciate Vendel’s respect for the ability of children to think for themselves and to process issues which don’t always have a definite end. I love Hertbruggen’s art! Which won a silver medal at the annual The Original Art exhibition, which is presented by the Society of Illustrators. This has been a challenging book for me to write about. I urge you to find a copy of this in your local book store and give it a read. Unsettling, brave and beautiful. What do you think?
BB Rating: 3.5/5
Follow me on Twitter: @ByfordsBooks