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Smells Like Treasure by Suzanne Selfors

Smells Like Treasure is the sequel to the earlier Smells Like Dog. Hopefully, more sequels will follow and the author will create a series. In the earlier book, a likable but eccentric boy named Homer Pudding has inherited a dog with special talents from his beloved Uncle Drake Pudding, an inveterate treasure hunter who has met with a violent death engineered by the evil Madame La Directeur. Homer’s new pet, a lovable basset hound simply named Dog, has a special talent: he can sniff out treasure. However, he has no sense of smell for ordinary objects. This puts Dog in danger: his lack of smell makes him vulnerable to eating harmful or even toxic substances, so Homer must keep a careful eye on his activities. Also, his treasure hunting abilities make him vulnerable to being dognapped, so Homer must protect the secret of this power at all costs.

Homer’s mission in Smells Like Treasure is to be inducted into a secret society of adult treasure hunters. L.O.S.T. His induction, sponsored posthumously by his late Uncle Drake, seems certain until he is challenged from an unexpected source. Homer’s friend and former ally Lorelei, a character introduced in Smells Like Dog, has now become his “frenemy” as she crashes the meeting of L.O.S.T. with a challenge to be inducted instead of Homer. Wacky yet suspenseful adventures follow, made more interesting by the supporting cast of eccentric adult treasure hunters. Homer’s family reappear in this book to remind us that even Homer’s roots come from an eccentric and quirky source.

This book has some very unique features. First, it has a vaguely British or perhaps Canadian setting. Homer’s base is a down homey goat farm in the bucolic town of Milkydale. His parents are earnest, hard working salt of the earth types, and his little brother is simply a generic cute little kid. However, Homer’s Gwendolyn sister is as eccentric as Homer is. Homer is obsessed with treasure hunting its related field, cartography, and Gwendolyn is obsessed with taxidermy. Homer is a slight misfit among his peers, and his adult treasure hunting comrades also march to the beat of a different drummer. His mentor, Zelda, borders on freakishness as she is a giant. Somehow all the eccentrics are believable, and do not create too much of an over-the-top effect.

Homer’s adventures in a secret society are somewhat reminiscent of Harry Potter’s struggles to coexist with the world of Muggles, and the adult treasure hunters parallel the mentors that Harry has in his wizarding world. Lorelei, the “frenemy” is a complex character with many good qualities, but her street urchin past has made her somewhat treacherous. Madame La Directuer is a magnificent villain who will hopefully resurface in future books.

Homer and Dog are both low key, lovable but somewhat plodding characters. Their adventures are fast paced and suspenseful, yet also somewhat silly, The author occasionally throws out authorial asides that remind us of lemony Snicket’s commentaries. These books are true originals, quirky and fun, and should interest many different kinds of readers.

-Donna Talmage, August 2011

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