Children’s Book of the Week: Who Needs Donuts?

Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Alan Stamaty

Wow. This is quite a book. It was first published in 1973 and then apparently went swiftly out of print, and used copies of it fetched hundreds of dollars. I can see why. It’s definitely the kind of book where, if you read it as a child, you would be desperate to get your hands on it to see if it was everything you remembered it to be. Happily, it has now been reprinted, so we can all enjoy it.

First, the story. A boy named Sam wishes for a bigger life, one that includes more donuts. So he hops on his tricycle and goes to the big city, where he meets Mr. Bickferd, a man who collects donuts. Lots and lots of donuts. He hires Sam on, and together they collect an obscene amount of donuts. So many donuts, in fact, that their donut cart breaks down, and Pretzel Annie comes to the rescue. While the cart is being fixed, Pretzel Annie and Mr. Bickferd fall in love, Mr. Bickferd leaves donut collecting, and Sam is on his own. All the while a bitter old woman keeps intoning, “Who needs donuts, when you have love?” The bitter old woman soon falls into a random set of circumstances that has her drowning in coffee, and Sam, now a lone donut collector, comes to her rescue.

Ok, so the story is one thing. But the PICTURES. Oh my goodness, they are indescribable. They are all black and white, pen and ink, and just unbelievably detailed. This is a book you will pick up after the kids go to bed just so you can study it. There are tiny words woven in everywhere, as signs, as ads, as bumper stickers, as things people are saying. Your kids will be begging, “Turn the page, Mommy!” as you get completely lost in every scene.

Comments (3)

  1. Patrick November 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I remember this book! I wonder if it’s still in my Mom’s house. I’ll have to investigate when we get up there.Thanks for the memory goose!

  2. Julie December 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

    You should definitely look for it! It will blow your mind to see it as an adult. Though I never saw it as a kid. I think it would have blown my mind as a kid, too.

  3. Rich K. March 10, 2016 at 4:58 am

    I just bought my copy from Amazon!!

    I’m 43 in 2016, Japanese-American, born and raised in Seattle (to give you an idea as to where, when, and how I grew up).

    I claim that kid books are ADULT books too, because as an adult, you can absorb the stories in a different way.

    I admit, I get choked up on the page where Sam says, “Don’t you want to collect donuts anymore?”

    But, as an adult, I also now realize that Sam made a BREAKTHROUGH at that point: He seemed more sad to lose a FRIEND (Mr. Bickferd), than he was happy to just “take over all the donuts.”

    After returning home, I believe that Sam appreciated the many friends he had, that much more!

    I think that “friendship” is a valuable underlying message that this book provides!

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