I Smell Like Ham

Overview

Boys, basketball, barf — the pefect middle grade novel! Nick wants to convince the coach that he's a point guard, get rid of Dwayne-the-dork, and stop missing his mother. But that's tough to do when he can't keep the ball way from Carson Jones, the dork is his stepbrother, the honor code's a joke, and he's been splattered with something worse-smelling than ham.

Nick tries to maintain his sense of integrity as he works to succeed on the school basketball team, adjust...

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Overview

Boys, basketball, barf — the pefect middle grade novel! Nick wants to convince the coach that he's a point guard, get rid of Dwayne-the-dork, and stop missing his mother. But that's tough to do when he can't keep the ball way from Carson Jones, the dork is his stepbrother, the honor code's a joke, and he's been splattered with something worse-smelling than ham.

Nick tries to maintain his sense of integrity as he works to succeed on the school basketball team, adjust to his new stepmother and little "dorky" stepbrother, and deal with peer pressure from his friends.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Bulletin, Center for Children's Books

...readers will see the happy ending coming from clear across the court. Hicks does, however, craft in Nick a most credible preteen, a basically good kid who’s not above sneaking a cigarette to get the guys off his case, and who instantly knows that, in calling his new sibling “Moron,” he’s gone too far. Readers will applaud Nick’s inevitable awakening—almost as loudly as Dwayne’s newly scuffed shoes and dangling shirttails.

School Library Journal

Nick has typical middle-school worries—his appearance, how to talk to girls, making the team, and peer pressure. As if that’s not enough, add a clueless clad, a new stepmother with far-out ideas about just about everything (especially diet), and her geeky eight-year-old son, Dwayne, and you have all the ingredients for a funny and appealing story. . . . Hicks has created a fast-paced, tightly constructed narrative that weaves together basketball, Arthurian lore, blended families, and adolescent angst.

Booklist

Without compromising the underlying theme of a child’s grief and difficult adjustment to a blended family, Hick’s adds some fresh, funny touches to the story. . . Her kids are skillfully characterized, as well: Nick—sometimes a brat, but at heart a good kid—is right out of life, and readers will feel a twinge of sorrow for vulnerable Dwayne, who tries his best but just can’t seem to get anything right. A well-accomplished combination of sports and family concerns

Kirkus reviews

Eleven-year-old Nick has to go to school smelling like the cloves his new stepmother puts into the shampoo, and that’s just the beginning in this humorous yet true-to-life portrayal of family blending and six-grade angst. . . . First-novelist Hicks gives Dwayne, Miriam, and Dad enough dimension to avoid creating familiar stereotypes of the pesky baby brother, evil stepmother, and out-of-touch Dad, which is refreshing.

Publishers Weekly

Although the premise sounds a bit like a sitcom a sixth-grader with dreams of basketball glory learns to come to terms with his new blended family Hicks's first novel is both humorous and heartfelt. Nick Kimble is anything but thrilled when his widowed father remarries, especially when it means gaining a new stepbrother, a chess-playing third-grade geek named Dwayne (whom Nick promptly dubs "Duh-Wayne"). Hicks handily juggles this knotty development with several other plotlines, including Nick's struggle to make the cut for the basketball team and navigate the shoals of peer pressure. In the end, Nick's nobler inclinations win out: when Dwayne runs away and Nick searches for him, Nick realizes that he's not the only one struggling to find his place in the new family structure. Hicks serves up snappy dialogue and plenty of laughs (including the title, which refers to some clove shampoo Nick's organic-loving stepmother buys for him). In describing one of his stepmother's meals, for instance, Nick notes, "We had a giant fungus on a bun that she said was a porta-something mushroom burger. Porta-potty stuck in my mind, but that wasn't it." Overall, this is a pleasing family tale in which the underlying tone of sweetness never slips into sap.

Publishers Weekly
Although the premise sounds a bit like a sitcom a sixth-grader with dreams of basketball glory learns to come to terms with his new blended family Hicks's first novel is both humorous and heartfelt. Nick Kimble is anything but thrilled when his widowed father remarries, especially when it means gaining a new stepbrother, a chess-playing third-grade geek named Dwayne (whom Nick promptly dubs "Duh-wayne"). Hicks handily juggles this knotty development with several other plotlines, including Nick's struggle to make the cut for the basketball team and navigate the shoals of peer pressure. In the end, Nick's nobler inclinations win out: when Dwayne runs away and Nick searches for him, Nick realizes that he's not the only one struggling to find his place in the new family structure. Hicks serves up snappy dialogue and plenty of laughs (including the title, which refers to some clove shampoo Nick's organic-loving stepmother buys for him). In describing one of his stepmother's meals, for instance, Nick notes, "We had a giant fungus on a bun that she said was a porta-something mushroom burger. Porta-potty stuck in my mind, but that wasn't it." Overall, this is a pleasing family tale in which the underlying tone of sweetness never slips into sap. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Nick has typical middle-school worries-his appearance, how to talk to girls, making the team, and peer pressure. As if that's not enough, add a clueless dad, a new stepmother with far-out ideas about just about everything (especially diet), and her geeky eight-year-old son, Dwayne, and you have the ingredients for a funny and appealing story. The title comes from an amusing situation in which Nick uses his stepmother's new clove shampoo, and to his great humiliation, everyone thinks he smells like ham. Effective dialogue advances the plot quickly, but the boy's inner monologue keeps readers thoroughly entertained with his honesty and humor. When Nick's dad asks his routine daily question: "What did you learn in school today?" Nick wants to tell him "I learned not to wash my hair with cloves," "never to be late for basketball practice." "I also learned that most of the sixth grade knows Dwayne's a dork-." But what he answers is, "I learned how to subtract decimals." Hicks has created a fast-paced, tightly constructed narrative that weaves together basketball, Arthurian lore, blended families, and adolescent angst.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761317487
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2002
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Betty Hicks is the author of Animal House and Iz, and Busted. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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