I really loved Fortune's Magic Farm. I loved the magic, the characters, the classic-yet-new plot, the quirky details. However, I don't know why, but I just can't bring myself to like any of Selfors' other books. It's very frustrating.
Her latest story, Smells Like Dog, is a wacky, wild adventure involving treasure, mysterious villains, carniverous tortoises, taxidermy-aspiring sisters, and the nature of dreams and duty.
It just didn't work for me. The main character, Homer Pudding, was the most realistic part of the book. He knows he's strange and odd, he knows he doesn't fit in, but he just can't let go of his obsessions and dreams, no matter how unrealistic they are. He finds himself being carried away by events and deals with them the best way he can, even when he makes what seems like an unending series of unfortunate mistakes. But the other characters...I guess the problem comes down to, just too much quirk for me. A few odd characters I can handle, but it seemed like every single person had some weird, outlandish element from Homer's sister Gwen and her obsession with taxidermy to the Snooty brothers impossible names and weird complications. There is some good plotting and nice stylistic turns, but there's just too much quirk for my tastes.
But that's just me. I previously ordered this for my library, mainly because I really liked the description, and it was more or less popular when I took it around on school visits. The cover is eye-popping and kids really seem to like the unending series of quirky elements and the dog aspect. I was worried that it's too long for the sometimes childish silliness, but that doesn't seem to bother my readers.
Source: ARC received from Little & Brown, publication May 2010.
Verdict: Although I didn't personally like this, my library patrons do and I'm glad I purchased it. Hand this one to fans of Selfors' previous books, Roald Dahl readers, and possibly Lemony Snicket fans as well.
ISBN: 0316043982; Published May 2010 by Little, Brown; ARC provided by publisher; Purchased for the library