Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Arthur Yorinks
Illustrator: Braden Lamb & Shelli Paroline
Publisher: First Second
Mickey Spitz’s parents are professional dog people. Because Mickey was raised alongside his “brothers and sisters” (who happen to be bloodhounds), he’s developed some unusual traits for a human kid. Mickey can smell anything, find anything, and even know about things that other people can’t see because of his nose. But when his parents die in an awful accident, Mickey’s whole life takes a turn for the worse. His brothers and sisters are sent away, and he has to live with his aunt and uncle, who absolutely hate dogs. He has an especially hard time with his uncle, who thinks all kids are “crooks.” When his Aunt Ju Ju becomes deathly ill, Mickey knows what no one else knows. He can smell that Aunt Ju Ju will be just fine. Mickey gradually grows to love his aunt and uncle, and finds that life can be good again if he can be patient enough to let it.
Making Scents is a fanciful story filled with loads of funny situations that will engage and amuse its readers. Mickey is very sympathetic and straightforward as a character. He really just wants to enjoy being a dog with his “siblings.” However, there are some troubling parts. Mickey struggles with other adults contradicting him on his dog-like behavior. And, while it may be in silly humor, it’s uncomfortable how honestly his parents treat him like a dog. They even admit to loving some of their other dogs more than him, and mention that they had him on accident. His parents are difficult to like in that way, and the reader will probably be hard-pressed to mourn at their funeral. The illustration style is fresh and technically beautiful in its execution. The choice of a monochromatic color scheme is playfully retro and energetic. The characters’ appearances are diverse, over-the-top entertaining, and move the story forward effortlessly. All in all, this is a memorable read.