Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors
How could I not read a book called Smells Like Dog? This is the sad, surprising, heart-warming, and hilarious journey of 12-year-old Homer Winslow Pudding. Homer is a dreamer who usually has his head stuck in a book (sounds like me) or his mind on the many maps that may or may not be a treasure map. He gets along best with his treasure-hunting uncle, Drake Horatio Pudding, who fills his head with daring feats and dangerous quests. Homer's father, on the other hand, wants his head out of the clouds and on terra firma, ready to work on the family-owned goat farm.
When Homer gets the news that his beloved uncle has died, he is heartbroken. However, Uncle Drake has left Homer his most valuable possession, a gold coin and a basset hound that can't smell anything and has unusual talent (read the book to find out). Homer immediately dismisses the dog and focuses on the coin. It's here that the adventure really begins.
After accidentally burning down the local library, Homer and his older sister, Gwendolyn, decide to run away (both for different reasons) to The City.* On his journey to find out the meaning of the gold coin, he runs into friends and foes alike, but which is which? A treasure hunter trusts no one. With his unusual companion, Dog, they find themselves in one mishap after another.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Homer is a lot like I was at that age; however, my mum always believes that I can do anything I put my mind too, unlike Homer's dad, who doesn't want him to reach too far or dream too big. His mother tries to overcompensate by mothering a little too much, his older sister has her own ambitions (and thinks he's weird), and his little brother Squeek wants to do what everyone else doing. Homer is still an outsider in his family, but he made a promise to his uncle to never give up on his dreams. Funny and unusual secondary characters abound that will have you laughing out loud. Treasure hunting, man-eating tortoises, villainous characters, a dog that will eat anything, and cloud-copters...what more could you ask for?
"Anyone who loves books the way Homer does, loves libraries, too. It doesn't matter if the library has fancy red leather chairs and gold-plated shelves that reach to a vaulted ceiling, of if the library has splintery wooden benches and shelves made of old milk crates. It's the scent that sets the book lover at ease. It's better than grandma's perfume, or freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, or even toast. It's a scent derived from paper, mildew, dust, and human endeavors. The oldest books smell best of all, ripened by time like expensive goat cheese." (pages 98-99)
Book Two, Smells Like Treasure will be out May 2011.
*The City is an ominous place where all kinds of bad things happen to good people, according to Homer's dad.
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 1, 2010)
Available as an eBook.