Touting the end of having to earn treats with silly tricks, wear cutesy outfits, and endure diets and infringements on personal space ("How would you like someone watching you poop? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!"), not to mention the cone of shame, a runaway indoor dog righteously trumpets its newfound freedom: "LIVIN' THE DREAM!" But maybe it's not all a walk in the park, what with rainstorms, scary raccoons, and the lack of ear scratches? Plus, a glimpse of the former owner with . . . another dog (A false alarm, as it turns out she's only walking it for someone else. But still.) leads to a reconsideration and a joyful reunion. "What?" says the prodigal pooch, dozing off on a warm lap. "I'm still a lone wolf. Besides, relationships are all about compromise." Hogan's brightly colored suburban scenes show the chubby mutt first as a puppy in a young girl's arms, later watching as she (teenaged, or possibly older) looks sadly at the "lost dog" sign she's posted, then contentedly sharing a sofa at the end fill in the background story nicely. The tone and elevated vocabulary, as well as the art, may speak to older, even adult readers, but younger ones will certainly be reminded of their own gleeful temporary breaks for freedom as toddlers.
– Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
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.
– Shelf Awareness
The "I'm" in the title belongs to this book's protagonist, a canine narrator who appears on a "Missing" poster and initially addresses readers disguised with mustaches worthy of Hercule Poirot. Wearing an expression of perpetual side-eye, the dog details a recent voluntary flight from home and his new life as a "LONE WOLF": "Trying to be a good boy, the best boy. It's exhausting... humiliating, even!" Readers will quickly surmise, however, that though the hound didn't love being forced to perform for treats at home or poop in public, this circumstance is really a case of "be careful what you wish for"-especially when the figure spots his former owner, a tan-skinned youth, walking another pooch. All is eventually cleared up, with the dog last seen snuggled on that owner's lap, reminding readers that "relationships are all about compromise." Simpatico collaborators Gourley and Hogan (Poe and Lars) match deadpan, world-weary narration with images of finely tuned comic misery and disdain in this volume--particularly a series of illustrations depicting the many costumes the dog has had to endure.
– Publishers Weekly