Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel. Harper, 2017. 9780062351265. 170pp.
I introduced Sarah to Elise Gravel’s sketchbook last week (as I write this). She and I are both huge fans of Gravel’s Disgusting Critters series and the friendly monsters she draws. This hybrid chapter book/graphic novel features more of the same sense of humor and silliness. (Grumpy little Olga resembles the grumpy self portrait Gravel drew in her sketchbook.) Olga loves animals (except mosquitoes), so there are lots of drawings of them throughout. She proves animals beat humans in head-to-head cuteness contests, and shows that even their farts are cute. Her closest friend is a spider named Rita who she pretends speaks French and to whom she says, “I’d like to give you a hug, but you would die.” Olga makes observations galore, which leads her to find the coolest animal poop ever (it looks like Skittles). Her new friend, the smelly animal of the title, looks “like a cross between an inflated hamster and a potato drawn by a three-year-old.” All it says is “meh.” (You’ll want one of your own, too, even though it smells like sardines.) Olga does some research to find out what Meh is and, perhaps more importantly, what it eats. It’s a fun way for a young scientist to explore the scientific method — there’s even a simplified two-page summary of the scientific method at the end.