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Hicks, Betty.
Brookfield, Conn. : Roaring Brook Press, 2002.
IL 3-6, RL 4.4
ISBN 0761328572

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Nick has a lot of changes going on in his life.  All he wants to do is make the 6th grade basketball team.  Well, actually everyone makes the team.  Nick wants to be a starter.  It looks doubtful though as Carson is a much better player.  So why does Nick also have to come to terms with a new family?  His mother has passed away and his dad has remarried.  Mariam is nice enough but she isn't his mother.  And, she serves the family health food like tofu and stuff that looks as bad as it tastes.  And of course there's Dwayne.  He's Nick's new step brother.  He just happens to be an 8 year old dork.  Everyone can see that.  Nick is so embarrassed to be related to Dwayne.  How will this all work out?  And why does Nick now smell like ham?

Booktalk #2

                    "It's true.  I had spent my whole life wishing for a brother.  But I'd imagined a three-day-old baby that Mom and Dad brought home from the hospital--one that Mom had given birth to.  She died two years ago.  Dad clearly had some other baby in mind.  Then it hit me.  'Dwayne.'  I whispered the name like it was a disease, but I knew in my gut that Dwayne Mitchell, Dwayne-the-Dweeb Mitchell, was about to be my stepbrother." (pg 6)
                    When Nick Kimble's father re-marries, Nick not only gets a new mom, but a built-in little brother as well.  First and foremost on Nick's mind, is making the basketball team at his school.  He's hungry for the chance to practice, but little brother Dwayne always seems to be in the way.  It's not enough that Dwayne is a total geek whose room resembles a science lab full of strange plants, but Dwayne's mom (alias Nick's new step-mom) has some weird ideas about food and things like clove shampoo, which Nick thinks makes him smell like ham.  Nick tries to distance himself from both Dwayne and his new step-mom, but disaster strikes one night when Dwayne runs away.  Will Nick come to the rescue?  Does he make the basketball team?  Will he ever have a normal family life again?  I Smell Like Ham answers all these questions and more with humor, adventure, and one boy's new-found appreciation of family and little brothers.  (Cerese Long,, White Knoll Middle School, West Columbia, S.C.)

Booktalk #2

Promises. Why did I ever promise my mom right before she died that I would be a basketball star? My first basketball practice started out great. I wanted so much convince the coach that I was good enough to be a point guard. I couldn't believe it when the coach said, “Nick, You take point guard spot.” I thought to myself that this is great. I started dribbling, when out of nowhere came this guy called Carson Jones. He stole the ball from me and easily scored two points.  The second and third time Carson stole it, I didn't bother to look. I stared at the floor while my cheeks burned, but I heard the laughter. This is just one of my many worries. My name is Nick and everyday when I get home from school, my dad ask me the same silly question, “What did you learn in school today?” I wish I could wave a magic wand and zap myself into another family. Not because I never learn anything, but because I never learn the stuff Dad likes (page 1). I don't even feel like I can talk to my dad since my mom died. My problems went from bad to worse when my dad told me that I was about to get my wish. What wish I thought? My dad doesn't even remember what I want for breakfast. Then I remembered that I had always wanted a baby brother. I had forgotten about this wish when my mom died. When he told me that Dwayne Mitchell was going to be my new stepbrother, I thought that I was going to die. Dwayne-the-Dweeb Mitchell was the nerdiest kid in third grade, maybe even the whole world. Two weeks later, my dad marries Dwayne’s mom. I’ve learned a lot since then. 1. Weddings are overrated. 2. Too much wedding cake is almost as bad as too many Gummi Bears. 3. Dwayne’s mother is a better cook than my dad. 4. My bedroom door won't lock (page 7).  I wish Dwayne-the-Deeb would quit making me a laughing stock in front of my buddies and stop butting into my life. Find out how Nick tries to make the basketball team and fulfill his promise to his mom of being a basketball star. Join Nick as he adjusts to his new family and discover why Nick feels like, I Smell Like Ham by Betty Hicks.  (Becky Proctor,, School librarian at Dorchester Academy, St. George, SC)

SUBJECTS:     Self-esteem -- Fiction.
                        Conduct of life -- Fiction.
                        Stepfamilies -- Fiction.
                        Basketball -- Fiction.
                        Peer pressure -- Fiction.
                        Schools -- Fiction.
                        Sports -- Fiction.
                        Sports stories.


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