Smells Like Dog is adventure, mystery, and even treasure hunting! Homer is a rather ordinary boy-though deemed weird by his classmates, neighbors, and even his family due to his day-dreaming and treasure-hunting obsession.
All is normal on Homer Pudding's family goat farm until the day they learn of the death of Homer's uncle. Homer inherits Uncle Drake's most treasured possession-a droopy dog that has no sense of smell with a unique coin hidden on Dog's collar.
Homer and his sister, Gwendolyn, head off to The City on an adventure to follow their dreams to the Museum of Natural History. They run away from home after a devastating disaster in town that Homer was partially responsible for. They meet good guys and bad guys, but also learn that not everyone is as they appear to be, and some people will stop at nothing, even death, to get what they want.
What I like:
I love the adventure and true suspense in Smells Like Dog. Though written for middle graders, the mysteries remained true to the end for me. This is a clean book without language, though one character saying a few lines of "What the devil?" The characters' names are rather amusing. Law Offices of Toe and Jam, Madame la Directeur, and Mr. Twaddle are a fw of them.
What I didn't like:
I didn't care for the role of Homer's parents, though it did play into the story for Gwendolyn and Homer running away. His father seems to not just be indifferent, but to squelch the interests of his children. He is concerned that since Homer is a overweight and only speaks of treasure hunting that his son will never fit in. Mr. Pudding is also so focused on goat farming that he thinks of little else unless he is criticizing his children. Homer's mother, on the other hand, overcompensates for his father's. She goes overboard with the coddling, and doesn't really consider the consequences of that either. I was extremely frustrated with the family dynamics while reading, though I suppose they are rather realistic of too many situations. The good news is by the end of the story, Homer learns of something about his father that gains new respect-and sheds new light on his father's situation and love of farming.
Overall, I did enjoy Smells Like Dog, and would recommend it! There is even a follow up called Smells Like Treasure. I think it's a great choice for middle school readers-and older!
I have to add (after a couple of comments) that if your middle school child is looking for some adventures to read about, I have a few more recommendations! Check out The Strictest School in the World (linked to my "review"), The Mysterious Benedict Society (the three books for $13.09 total! WOW!), and The Penderwicks! Each of these are a series (yes, read them in order!), and worth the time in my opinion! We own all of the Strictest School and MBS books, and some day we may own The Penderwicks, too. Yes, they are that good.
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