Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

Smells Like Dog is a romp of an adventure with treasure hunts, cartography, taxidermy, soup warehouses, museums, pirates, and a dog with no smell. With a tone slightly reminiscent of Lemony Snicket, this is a book the middle grade readers are going to love.

Homer Pudding lives a pretty boring life. He spends most of his time poring over the maps and books his uncle sends him, irritating his goat farming father to no end. But Homer longs for a life of adventure, a life off the farm, and a life of hunting treasure, like his uncle. But when his uncle dies in a horrible tortoise accident and leaves Homer his most valuable possession, Homer is a little disappointed to only receive a sad-looking basset hound. And then to learn that Dog can’t even smell? However, Dog and Homer are quickly pulled into world of treasure hunters who will do anything to find treasure.

Full of fantastic characters, exciting adventures, and lots of laughter, Smells Like Dog is bound to be a classic. This is a delightful middle grade novel perfect for boys and girls alike.

*ARC courtesy of publisher

Popular Book Fair Picks

The spring book fair was held last week at my middle school.  As the language arts teacher on my team, I escort all of our students to the fair and I love it.  I get to spend about 20 minutes with each class, browsing and making book recommendations.  They also love telling me about books that I haven’t read yet.  It’s always a lot of fun to see which books are popular, as I take over 100 students over the course of the day.  I see a lot of the same books being bought over and over.  Many times, it’s because someone in 1st period saw it, raved about it, and convinced students in later classes to buy the same book.  I love watching these social reading experiences!

Mark Teague’s The Doom Machine was very popular with a lot of my students. They were intrigued by the cover and even more excited when I listed some of Teague’s other books. Kids love reading books by familiar authors.

During my first period class, a group of girls purchased Alphas by Lisi Harrison. They decided to read it together as a book club, even going so far as to assign pages to be read each night so that they could discuss it at lunch the next day. I found myself laughing at dismissal because one of the girls read ahead and the rest were mad at her. Gotta love it!

My romance lovers were drawn to the fantastic cover of A Novel Of The Titanic – Distant Waves. I haven’t read it yet, but found myself talking about it over and over as we tried to figure out what it was about. Thanks for not putting a summary on the back, Scholastic! (Can I just say that I hate it when publishers don’t put jacket copy on the back cover of a paperback? It stops so many kids from buying the book!)

I also had a few students pick out books for their younger siblings. For baseball-loving younger brothers, one student purchased Six Innings and The Brooklyn Nine. I love both of these books and they are very popular with my students, who are now sharing the love with their siblings.

Students looking for scary stories seemed drawn to a few major titles. Most popular were Neal Shusterman’s Full Tilt and Dread Locks: Dark Fusion # 1. Mary Downing Hahn is always popular, so All the Lovely Bad Ones went home with more than a handful of students, too.

Some other popular choices were-

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

The book fair was held at our school during this past week. I love watching to see what my students buy, almost as much as I love booktalking the books at the fair. One very popular choice for my girls was Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, a fantastic new graphic novel. I hadn’t read the book yet but many of my students bought a copy. The next day, one of them rushed into homeroom and handed me her copy. “Do you want to read it, Miss M.? I finished it last night and it was really good!” I was so convinced by her enthusiasm that I put aside the book I was reading and read Smile during reading workshop.

What a wonderful graphic novel for middle grade girls! Based on Raina Telgemeier’s own experiences, this graphic novel is perfect for the tween set. Full-color illustrations really make the story pop and even though I am not a huge graphic novel fan. (I’m too verbal to really pay attention to the illustrations. They’re too spatial for me!) In the beginning of middle school Raina falls and knocks her two front teeth fall out. She’s not only in major pain, but she’s also scared. To make matters worse, her trip to the dentist doesn’t yield the greatest news- he can put the one tooth they found back in but the other is stuck up in her gums. Plus, there was bone damage. She wears the braces for a few years only to find that her teeth wind up embedded in her gums, leaving her feeling like she’s a freak.

What I really love about this book is how well Telgemeier captures tween angst. The accurately portrays many of the struggles tween girls are faced with, from fake friends to body image issues. I found myself laughing and nodding my head, reminded of my own middle school years.

On a completely unrelated note, I love the cover!  Why?  Because it doesn’t advertise that it is a graphic novel.  In many cases, my students are reluctant to pick up graphic novels because they don’t look like “real” books to many parents.  So kudos to Scholastic for giving this great novel a typical cover that doesn’t scream “comic book!” to adults!

*Copy courtesy of a student who lent it to me!