Making Scents by Arthur Yorinks (review)
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Reviewed by
Yorinks, Arthur Making Scents; illus. by Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline. First Second, 2017112p
ISBN 978-1-59643-452-3 $15.99R* Gr. 4–6

In this gorgeous, melancholy graphic novel, a boy raised with dogs must become all human after a tragedy. Mickey is the only human child of his bloodhound-trainer parents, who raise Mickey as part of the canine pack, treat their canine children and human child equally, and even encourage Mickey to develop his scent-tracking abilities. When his parents are killed in a car accident, Mickey is shuttled off to his estranged aunt and her husband, who hate dogs and don’t feel much better about dog-acting children. There’s an aching grief that permeates the middle third of the novel, when Mickey is barely hanging on, but Yorinks trusts the reader to stay with Mickey for a bit, enduring with him while also beginning to see glimpses of connection between Mickey and his aunt and uncle that slowly blooms into a different but also true and loving family. The retro coloring (spreads often employ only two colors, with coral, aqua, or olive partnering the black lines) matches the ’50s setting; Micky clearly lives in a quieter, less technological world. A well-constructed and engaging illustrators’ note offers early sketches of the characters and goes into detail about how this graphic novel evolved from the author’s script to thumbnails, pencil drawings, inks, colors (also exploring how single color palettes per panel can change illustration impact), and finally lettering.

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