I'm Not Missing

A lovable mutt leaves pet life behind him in this colorful, pun-filled and jocular picture book by Poe and Lars author/illustrator team Kashelle Gourley and Skylar Hogan.

"It was RUFF" being an indoor dog, so the dog narrator of I'm Not Missing left home. Now a "lone wolf," he no longer needs to roll over for treats, wear the cone of shame, watch his diet or go to the bathroom with zero privacy ("How would you like someone watching you poop? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!"). When he sees his human with a different dog, he tries to play it cool until he remembers what he loved about pet life. But he might be too far in the doghouse to go back.

Gourley balances playful humor with touching moments, packing this tiny story with big emotions: the "exhausting" work of being a good boy, the excitement of having no rules, the sting of jealousy when someone else gets special treatment. These juxtapositions of angry, happy and sad are made stark with Hogan's contrasting bright and dark palettes, facilitating opportunities to discuss these feelings with younger readers. Big laughs, however, will be most frequent with Hogan's bright and cheery art depicting the grumpy narrator in several silly costumes, doing his business and trying to scratch himself while wearing the cone of shame. Adult-directed jokes (a blur censoring the dog's body when he removes his collar) and puns ("I loved my dog bod") make this a read-aloud story fun for all. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

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