Smells Like A Dog
by Suzanne Selfors
Genre: YA Mystery
Pages: Hardcover, 368 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (May 1, 2010)
Meet Homer Pudding, an ordinary farm boy who's got big dreams-to follow in the footsteps of his famous treasure-hunting uncle. But when Uncle Drake mysteriously disappears, Homer inherits two things: a lazy, droopy dog with no sense of smell, and a mystery.
Why would his uncle call this clumsy dog his "most treasured possession?" And why did he put a gold coin on the dog's collar?
And who will continue Uncle Drake's quest-to find the most coveted pirate treasure in the world?
Join Homer, his sister Gwendolyn, and Dog on an adventure that will test their wits and courage as they leave their peaceful farm and head into a world where ruthless treasure hunters hide around every corner. Where they discover that Dog has a hidden talent and that treasure might be closer than they ever imagined. . .
First, let me welcome author Suzanne Selfors today because she will be stopping by to answer questions (I will post them at the end)! Yeah! Second, let me tell you how much I love this book. I laughed so hard during this book that my husband kept looking at me like I was nuts (nothing new here people, but still). Suzanne has written an absolute gem with this one. I love Homer because of his shy, unsuspecting ways and can see many of my students in him. Dying to prove that there is more to them than we could ever imagine but just not quite sure how to do it. Homer definitely does that through his quest to find out more about Uncle Drake’s death. He meets people along his journey that help him find who he is and be proud of that all the while dealing with a dad who seemingly doesn’t understand him, a sister who stuffs the animals that have lost their lives on the farm (who is freakin’ hilarious by the way), a mom who mother’s way too much, and a little brother who I just want to squeeze. The characterization in this book was wonderful and I found myself hearing their voices as I was reading. I am proud to say that this one will be used for many different writing techniques in my classroom next year because Selfors does an amazing job using many of the things in her writing that I struggle with helping my students understand and understand the importance of!
I tried to keep track of some of these things so that I could refer back to them and just keep track of thoughts and other things while I was reading in a reading journal. I got this idea from Ruth (Two Writing Teachers) and wasn’t sure how it would work, but it was a blast and I am looking forward to keeping up with it this summer along with my writing journal. Here is what one of my pages looks like…
(notice Phineas and Ferb…. yes, even they have a place in this story!)
So now, without further ado, I will post my questions for the splendid Suzanne Selfors (nice use of alliteration… I know). Thanks again for stopping by Suzanne and make sure to check out Good Books for Kids blog on June 20, 2010 where Suzanne will be vising next. And check out Suzanne's site here for more information on her books and other cool stuff! I will tell you that since I am teaching solely writing next year, my questions are focused on that and to give info for my students. I will be using this (along with the book) in my room to help them out! Thanks for reading and make sure to go get Smells Like A Dog today!!
1. What advice can you give for those who say they can't write?
This is a tough question. My art professor in college told me that anyone can learn how to "draft", but not everyone can "draw." I think it's the same with writing. The "craft" can be taught, and most people can improve their writing skills in the classroom. I certainly have. But what makes a great story stand out from a good story is "voice" and I'm not sure that can be taught. Oh, many will argue with me on that one.
2. What is the most rewarding thing you have found about writing?
Honestly, it's meeting readers. Little girls who come up to me, hugging my book, and tell me how much they loved a certain moment in the book. Or a letter from a teen reader who identified with the struggles of my protagonist. I've gotten many letters from teens telling me that because of one of my books, they want to become writers. WOW! Amazing. I'm humbled by such remarks. To inspire another life through story is the best thing ever.
3. Do you write everyday? If so, do you have a special place where you like to write (or feel inspired to write)?
I'm a mom, so no, I don't write everyday. I'm driving here and there and doing all those parental things that take up so much time. Forget about writing on weekends. But I do try to write in the mornings while the kids are in school, and I usually go to a coffeehouse because I like the white noise. If I stay home, I get distracted by housework and Oprah.
4. What is the biggest challenge when it comes to writing?
Time. It really surprised me after my first book came out, To Catch a Mermaid, when I realized that I was supposed to promote the book and visit schools and answer letters, all of which are important but take time away from writing the next book. It's a constant juggling act.
5. Who inspired you to write?
There is one writer I love with all my heart--Roald Dahl. When I read his stories, even now, I feel as if he's writing just for me. I wish I could have met him.
Thanks again to Suzanne for stopping by today and enlightening me that there are more things to do with a stuffed raccoon than I ever thought of... hello hole punch! :)