A Smelly Genius in Underwear: Chick and Brain SMELL MY FOOT! (Cybils Nominee)

Thanks Candlewick Press for providing the ARC of Chick & Brain’s latest chapter book: SMELL MY FOOT! And congratulations to Cece Bell on your Cybils nomination!

This book is my intro to the popular Chick and Brain series. At 68 pages of graphic novel-ish format, this is a good way to break reluctant readers into chapter books.


Goofy genius Brain uses a stinky foot to save self-righteous stickler Chick’s life when Chick is too hung up on being the manners police to notice Spot is actively putting him into a stew.

My take

A cautionary tale of what happens when you think you’re smarter than everyone and don’t see the forest for the trees.

My Eight-Year-Old Son’s Take

Five solid minutes of hysterical laughter, with the gasping explanation that “Brain’s stinky foot kills Spot!* And Brain is wearing UNDERWEAR!”

Later he called it as a Red Riding Hood retelling, which made me really proud.


Chick and Brain gloss over the fact that… Spot tries to cook Chick alive and would have done so had Brain not knocked him unconscious. When I live in a culture often obsessed with “forgiveness over accountability” this book is not something I’ll reference in talking to my kids about toxic people.


This is a funny book with eye-catching mixed-media illustrations. There are takeaways about looking at the bigger picture and not judging people by their appearance.

Also, a genius in underwear with a noxious-smelling foot is brilliant.


Good book for a kid who loves goofy humor (hint: that number is about two billion) and doesn’t need hard and immediate lessons about boundaries.

*It just knocks Spot out, but why ruin a book for a kid?

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