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Smells Like Dog    by Suzanne Selfors order for
Smells Like Dog
by Suzanne Selfors
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Suzanne Selfors writes the kind of middle reader books that I loved as a kid. They are quick yet longer reads that are chock full of imagination and adventure but grounded enough in the real world to seem possible. Now, normally, no matter how much I like an author, I am leery about any book with a dog as the focal point because I had to read too many sad ones when I was in school. However, Smells Like Dog contains a letter from Selfors stating that 'it is not ... a sad dog story' which immediately allays such fears. And any time things look like they might get sad, Selfors breaks into the narrative to assure the reader that it is not a sad dog story.

While Smells Like Dog is a story about a dog, it is also a story about a boy named Homer Pudding. Homer lives on a goat farm in the small English town of Milkydale which is far away from The City. While Homer does keep busy on the goat farm, his life lacks the adventure that his Uncle Drake writes home about. Homer spends his days daydreaming about being a famous treasure hunter like his uncle, but this just results in him being made fun of by the rest of his classmates in the one-room schoolhouse. Things start to change for Homer, though, when his uncle is mysteriously eaten by a tortoise and wills Homer a very droopy Basset Hound which Homer's younger brother names Dog. Dog, though, is not your average canine for he lacks any sense of smell. However, Dog holds one or two secrets that will lead Homer on his first adventure in The City, complete with treasure, maps, and evil villains.

Smells Like Dog is simply an adorable story. Selfors has outdone herself with this one. Homer and Dog's story is filled with friendship, adventure, betrayal, and important life lessons. The writing flows smoothly, dragging the unsuspecting reader in and leading him or her on a crazy, rocky path following Homer and Dog on their quest. Homer himself is a very likeable character to whom both boys and girls can easily relate, which makes his improbable but not impossible adventure seem all the more real. Suzanne Selfors is definitely one to watch as her novels just keep getting better. Her ability to craft a fun, imaginative adventure really shines in Smells Like Dog. And be assured - as she states at the beginning - that it is not a sad dog story in any way.

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