SMELLS LIKE DOG – Suzanne Selfors

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you are “too old” for a book. We can’t outgrow books. It’s impossible. I’m a bookdragon; you can trust me.

 My sister recently sent me the list books for the 2019-2020 Elementary Battle of the Books competition. As my niece will be reading the books, my sister was hoping maybe I could snag some of the books at my favorite used book stores. My first trip out scored four. And of course I’m going to read them before I deliver them to her. Why? Because they’re books!

 Before I get into the review of the first one, I want to ask you to please donate to my niece’s elementary school. It’s a rural public school in North Carolina and many students have little support at home and are not encouraged to read. This Battle of the Books competition excites these children and nourishes a love of reading that will, hopefully, last a lifetime. If you’d like to donate, please click here.  

I’ve never read Suzanne Selfors before, so I had no idea what I was missing.  What an absolute treat SMELLS LIKE DOG was.  It is witty, endearing, sharply written.  It was giving me serious FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER vibes with a hint of Carl Hiaasen (HOOT, FLUSH, SCAT, CHOMP – you get the idea.)  It was a splendid combination that left me smiling.

Selfors opens her book with a letter to her readers that makes it very clear that the story is about a dog and that dog does NOT die.  I(‘m of the opinion that every book with a dog should start in a similar fashion!)

Homer Pudding lives on a goat farm with his older sister, Gwendolyn, who wants to be a taxidermist when she grows up and practices on road kill, a young brother Pip that everyone calls Squeak, a mother who loves him to bits, and a father who doesn’t quite understand him.  Homer’s hero is his father’s brother, Uncle Drake the treasure hunter.  Homer wants to be just like his beloved uncle and his head  (and bookcase!) is full of dreams of treasures and maps and lore.

Then they read in the Sunday paper that Uncle Drake has been eaten by a tortoise.  A representative from a law firm in The City brings the family a letter.  There is also a letter just for Homer.  A letter and an old smelly hound.  Uncle Drake left his most treasured possession to Homer.  But what to make of the smelly basset hound with no sense of smell?  What purpose can he possibly serve?

But there is a gold coin on the dog’s collar and Homer has a clear taste for adventure that will take him far beyond his family’s goat farm and border collies.  With Dog at his side, Homer sets out on his first grand adventure with more questions than answers.  One thing becomes clear, however; Dog is perhaps the greatest treasure in the world.  Dog and family are forever.

And do not ever let any one tell you that you are too old for a children’s book. Pish-Posh, I say.  The problem with “adults” is that they’ve stopped reading.

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