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"Smelly" Kelly and His Super Senses: How James Kelly's Nose Saved the New York City Subway



by
Beth Anderson
illustrated by
Jenn Harney

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Calkins Creek
Imprint
Print
ISBN
9781684373994
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$17.55
SEE MEMBER PRICE
QTY

JLG Category

City Elementary

Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.

James Kelly smelled EVERYTHING: rats in the shed; circus elephants a mile away; tomorrow’s rain. His sense of smell was EXTRAORDINARY. But what good was a powerful nose? How could his super-sniffer make him special? In the New York City subway, James found his calling—and earned the nickname “Smelly” Kelly. Armed with his super-sniffer and the tools he invented, he tracked down leaks from the dangerous to the disgusting, from the comical to the bizarre. Then, he sprang into action to prevent cave-ins and explosions in the tunnels beneath the city. Smelly Kelly not only hunted leaks but also saved lives—and he discovered the truly extraordinary power inside him. Beth Anderson’s fast-paced text and Jenn Harney’s comical illustrations bring to life this everyday superhero.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Trim Size

9" x 11"

Dewey

B

AR

0: points 0

Lexile

700L

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Apr 2021

Book Genres

Fiction

Topics

James Kelly (1898–?). Biography. History of New York City. Subways. Transit workers. Sense of smell.

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

This picture book biography centers on James Kelly, a white Irish immigrant and Transit Authority worker born in 1898, who used his incredible sense of smell to solve problems. Kelly could recognize scents that most people ignored. His impressive ­ability helped him identify leaks that could damage the New York City subway system. Eventually, he implemented tools that supplemented his skills, such as a yellow powder called uranine. This chemical was used to stain water yellow and helped Kelly locate leaks. The engaging text features dramatic incidents and rescues. For example, near the end of the narrative, one scene depicts Kelly saving the life of a man who fell from the platform and onto the tracks. Kelly jumped down, crawled under the subway car, and pinned the man down. The car was able to pass over both men without hurting them. Harney’s cartoon-style artwork is perfect for the narrative because it reinforces the idea that Kelly was a little-known superhero. The illustrations feature a predominately white cast of characters. The author’s note, bibliography, and further ­resources section could inspire readers to conduct more ­research. This would be an excellent book for talking about problem-solving and ­engineering. VERDICT Recommended for elementary collections, particularly those that emphasize makerspaces, problem-solving, or STEAM activities.–Debbie Tanner, S D Spady Montessori Elem., FL

Horn Book

Mild-mannered James Kelly had a keen sense of smell, but what good was an “extraordinary nose”—a superpower, really—when what he needed was to sniff out a new job in New York City? The fish market, the sanitation department, the meatpacking companies were too smelly, but the subway system seemed just the right ticket. He discovered he had a knack for detecting water leaks, and soon he was known as “Smelly Kelly,” the subway’s “first official leak detective.” He also sniffed out a leaking gasoline storage tank and a disgustingly stinky old pile of elephant manure; but, most importantly, he realized his true gift was an inner force that impelled him to study, invent, and find solutions when things weren’t right. Anderson’s lively telling of a little-known story (who ever knew there was a heroic leak-smelling detective in the 1930s who saved the city with his nose?) employs strong, active verbs, as any superhero tale does, and is effectively complemented by digital illustrations that bring to life Kelly’s subterranean realm—the blue-black subway, the greenish miasmic smells drifting along, and Smelly Kelly’s red hair, a beacon in the darkness. Back matter includes an author’s note, information about Kelly’s tools and underground world, a note on research, a bibliography, and further resources. DEAN SCHNEIDER

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

This picture book biography centers on James Kelly, a white Irish immigrant and Transit Authority worker born in 1898, who used his incredible sense of smell to solve problems. Kelly could recognize scents that most people ignored. His impressive ­ability helped him identify leaks that could damage the New York City subway system. Eventually, he implemented tools that supplemented his skills, such as a yellow powder called uranine. This chemical was used to stain water yellow and helped Kelly locate leaks. The engaging text features dramatic incidents and rescues. For example, near the end of the narrative, one scene depicts Kelly saving the life of a man who fell from the platform and onto the tracks. Kelly jumped down, crawled under the subway car, and pinned the man down. The car was able to pass over both men without hurting them. Harney’s cartoon-style artwork is perfect for the narrative because it reinforces the idea that Kelly was a little-known superhero. The illustrations feature a predominately white cast of characters. The author’s note, bibliography, and further ­resources section could inspire readers to conduct more ­research. This would be an excellent book for talking about problem-solving and ­engineering. VERDICT Recommended for elementary collections, particularly those that emphasize makerspaces, problem-solving, or STEAM activities.–Debbie Tanner, S D Spady Montessori Elem., FL

Horn Book

Mild-mannered James Kelly had a keen sense of smell, but what good was an “extraordinary nose”—a superpower, really—when what he needed was to sniff out a new job in New York City? The fish market, the sanitation department, the meatpacking companies were too smelly, but the subway system seemed just the right ticket. He discovered he had a knack for detecting water leaks, and soon he was known as “Smelly Kelly,” the subway’s “first official leak detective.” He also sniffed out a leaking gasoline storage tank and a disgustingly stinky old pile of elephant manure; but, most importantly, he realized his true gift was an inner force that impelled him to study, invent, and find solutions when things weren’t right. Anderson’s lively telling of a little-known story (who ever knew there was a heroic leak-smelling detective in the 1930s who saved the city with his nose?) employs strong, active verbs, as any superhero tale does, and is effectively complemented by digital illustrations that bring to life Kelly’s subterranean realm—the blue-black subway, the greenish miasmic smells drifting along, and Smelly Kelly’s red hair, a beacon in the darkness. Back matter includes an author’s note, information about Kelly’s tools and underground world, a note on research, a bibliography, and further resources. DEAN SCHNEIDER

Grades 2-6
City Elementary
For Grades 2-6

Urban situations and plot lines featuring ethnically and culturally diverse characters give these books a unique city flavor and feel. Young urban readers will find familiar images, and readers who are not from the city will enjoy exploring life from a new perspective. The 12 books you'll receive in this category will ensure that urban adventures are available all year long.

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$210.60 per Year
Interests
Diversity,Fiction,Positive Messages
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