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‘Making Scents:’ Graphic Novel Review

Mickey Spitz’s parents never intended to have a child; raising and training bloodhounds as scent dogs was their lifelong passion; however, when a baby comes along, they integrate him into the household pack as if he were a talking puppy rather than a human child.  Mickey considers his family dogs his siblings and strives to learn how to track by scent as well as the dogs.  When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Mickey is separated from his furry brothers and sisters and sent to live with his aunt and uncle who aren’t overly found of either pets or children.  Can he learn how to cope and find a way to turn his new family into something that feels like home?

Arthur Yorinks, Brandon Lamb, and Shelli Paroline, the creators of Making Scents, all adore animals, and it shows in their charming story about a little boy raised as part of a pack of dogs by a pair of hilariously critter-focused parents. (They encourage Mickey to try to scent like the dogs and don’t seem concerned that others might find it odd!)  At the same time, they are able to acknowledge that people who don’t have hordes of animals aren’t bad; it’s just looking for something to bond over that isn’t a pet. 

Making Scents is definitely an all-ages story, but I would caution parents to read it with their children or make themselves available to discuss some of the weightier topics.  While the overall tone of the book is hopeful and uplifting, it does deal with the death of parents, illness of an adult caregiver, loss of pets, bullying/inability to fit in with peers, and mistreatment by an adult caregiver.  I think that many children can relate to the topics or have concerns about them, but it may be too stressful if they have to process them alone.

Lamb and Paroline’s artwork bursts with fun and the simplicity of childhood in many panels, and the choice to use simple color palettes on each page focuses the attention onto what is actually happening and being said. Some of the pages at the end of the graphic novel indicate the story is meant to be set around the 1950s.

As a dog lover, I absolutely adored Making Scents, and Mickey was an enjoyable child protagonist.  The graphic novel is over 100 pages long, but I breezed through it in almost one sitting, because I had to know how things would work out with the anti-animal aunt and uncle.  The ending warmed my heart and helped reaffirm that everyone can have a soft side, even the most crotchety folks.  If you want a sweet story that finds its way to a happy ending (No, Mickey doesn’t run away with the bloodhounds and go live in the forest, even though that would’ve been awesome.), definitely put Making Scents on your list.  You and the youngsters in your life will both find something to love.

5 Babies in a Tree out of 5

Jodi Scaife, Fanbase Press Social Media Strategist


Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga


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