As a child I loved scratch ‘n sniff things. They were usually pleasant girly fragrances such as strawberry shortcake, roses, freshly baked bread, etc. I’m not sure if smells such as a stinky pond, smelly old shoes, garlic and farts would have appealed quite so much…and so the conservative me wonders if The Smelly Book Company is taking a bit of a gamble with its new range of books that feature such unpleasant odours.
As I’m writing this review, my stomach is turning…genuinely. I keep moving the books further from my desk. To say they are pungent is an understatement!
The Adventures of Scratch, Sniff & Mr Smith, written by London author Shibani Mohindra, currently include three titles: The Search for Stinky Pond, Mr Smith Invents a Robot and The Case of the Missing Garlic. Each one is beautifully illustrated by Sue Sansom, in a style that brings back memories of my own childhood reading.
As you might expect, the stories are engineered around tales that involve the sense of smell. Each book is filled with the silly sort of humour that young children love, but as a parent reader I felt in places that the story element had been compromised too much in an effort to weave in ‘smelly’ opportunities. Throughout each book the reader must look for the red arrow to indicate the place where they should scratch ‘n sniff. Not all of the smells are unpleasant, and some are very well executed being really close to the actual thing. I imagine these books could be a great way of enticing reluctant readers, or those with learning difficulties, to sit down and enjoy reading, making it a fun and sensory experience.
I am lucky enough to have a daughter who loves reading, and she doesn’t really need the smelly incentive (although I’m sure that all could change!). I found the storyline of these books weren’t enough on their own to keep her attention, and she often wondered off before we got to the end which really isn’t like her. But she’s only 2.5 years old and these books are targeted at an older reading age of four to nine years. I also wonder if these books might appeal more to boys, as my daughter is very girly and isn’t a fan of stinky things!
However, the stickers inside of each book were a massive hit. My daughter was incredibly excited when she spotted them and was quickly covered from head to toe in smelly stickers!
The idea of reviving the ‘scratch ‘n sniff’ era is a great one, and each book in the range is affordably priced at £5.99. Just have a peg handy for some of the pages!