Cover image for I smell like ham
I smell like ham
Hicks, Betty.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Brookfield, Ct. : Roaring Brook Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
133 pages ; 22 cm
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.
Reading Level:
510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.6 3.0 65322.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.8 6 Quiz: 31806 Guided reading level: Q.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

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

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. Getting on the school basketball team is the most important thing for sixth-grader Nick. After all, he promised his mother just before she died that he would be a star. Now, two years after his pledge, he thinks he has got a chance--if only Carson Jones would goof up, and Nick's geeky new stepbrother, Dwayne, would quit making Nick a laughing stock in front of his buddies and stop butting into his life. Without compromising the underlying theme of a child's grief and difficult adjustment to a blended family, Hicks adds some fresh, funny touches to a comfortingly familiar story (Nick's stepmother's penchant for clove shampoo makes his head smell suspiciously like ham). 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. Stephanie Zvirin

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.