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  • Donuthead
  • Written by Sue Stauffacher
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  • Donuthead
  • Written by Sue Stauffacher
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307521521
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Written by Sue StauffacherAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Sue Stauffacher

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On Sale: December 18, 2008
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-52152-1
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Franklin Delano Donuthead is a fifth grader with a lot of problems: For starters, his last name is Donuthead. He considers himself handicapped because one arm and leg are shorter than the other (by less than half an inch), his mother is trying to poison him with non-organic foods (like salami), he doesn’t have a father, and Sarah Kervick, the new girl, who’s mean and totally unhygienic, is attached to him, warts and all, like glue.

This is a hilarious and touching novel featuring a neurotic, scared boy and a tougher-than-nails girl who each help the other in more ways than they can imagine. Sue Stauffacher has crafted characters full of wit and sensitivity, with a little anti-bacterial soap thrown in for good measure.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter one



Just the Facts



My name, if you must know, is Franklin Delano Donuthead.

Try saying that in a room full of fifth graders if you think names will never hurt you.

The Donuthead part comes from way back, from my great-great-great-great-grandfather who came to the United States during the famous turnip famine. Of course he didn't speak a lick of English. His Russian name was something like Donotscked. Somehow, when he came out of the ferry office at Ellis Island with a piece of paper in his hand, he was a Donuthead.

So, basically, I come from a long line of suffering Russian Donutheads.

All the suffering could have been avoided if it weren't for Washington Irving, this very famous writer who recorded the events of his life in his journal. One day, he wrote about these little balls of sweetened dough he liked fried up in hog fat. He called them dough nuts. Because, you see, the very first doughnuts were shaped like lumpy brown walnuts.

If only he'd stuck with the name the Dutch people gave them. They were the ones who created them, anyway. They called them olykoeks. If he had called them olykoeks, my life would have been very different, I assure you.

Then again, with my luck, I would have been named Franklin Delano Olykoekhead.

My mother is a major major fan of our thirty-second president. She likes to listen to the radio addresses that Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave when he came into office during the Great Depression. Believe it or not, she listens to them in her van during her workday. She has them all on tape.

"If FDR could rise above a life-threatening illness to become president of the United States, then you should be able to rise above the curse of a name like Donuthead to at least play third base for the New York Yankees," my mother says.

I think this is very unfair. Your mother gives you a name when you're all red and screaming and you have a pounding headache. You're not really in a position to question the "future" situation.

Now that I am eleven, I have pretty much accepted my life. I'm a Russian Donuthead who's named after a great handicapped president.

In some twisted way, this all makes sense. Because, you see, I too am handicapped. Yes, one side of my body is shorter than the other. My mother says this is my imagination, but I am here to tell you that a tape measure does not lie.

"Maybe you're just growing from side to side," she says. "One side first and then the other."

While this may be possible, I think it's highly unlikely. I have found no evidence to support this theory. Currently, there is an eight-tenths-of-an-inch difference between my left arm and my right arm, and a four-tenths-of-an-inch difference between my left leg and my right leg. Just yesterday, when I measured my legs after school, I found my toe creeping closer to the five. I am preparing myself mentally to have legs that look like they belong on two different bodies. Both my left arm and my left leg are longer. At this rate, I'm going to have to go to one of those special stores to be fitted for my Sunday suits. Soon, I'll be buying shoes with one high heel.

All my mother cares about is how this will affect my ability to play third base for the New York Yankees. I keep telling her that with my athletic ability, I'd be lucky if they hired me to chalk out the field. I think it's so pathetic how parents are always trying to transfer their dreams onto their kids.

So far, I've just focused on staying alive. If I didn't know there was an astonishingly high probability that I would live through each day–given my age, general health, and relatively high standard of living–I would not get out of bed in the morning.

I avoid motor vehicles whenever possible. According to the National Safety Department, this is by far the most likely way to die as a kid. I also avoid all bodies of water (drowning's number two), and anything that would cause a death-inducing accident (number three). This could be, oh, say, being hit in the temple by a hard grounder down the third base line. In addition, I never play with matches or firearms; never climb trees, ladders, or fences; change the smoke detector batteries every three months; do not drink liquids that are stored under the sink or put any plastic bags over my head.

Gloria Nelots, the chief statistician for the National Safety Department in Washington, has already offered me a job when I graduate from college–if I should live that long. She and I talk at least once a week.



Me: Good morning, Gloria.

Gloria: What is it now, Franklin?

Me: My school is planning a field trip to a working farm.

Gloria: And . . .

Me: I was just wondering . . . what is the likelihood of me being crushed by a moving tractor?

Gloria: Remote.

Me: Trapped in a hay silo and suffocated by grain?

Gloria: They don't make percentages that small.

Me: Can mad cow disease be transmitted by saliva? I mean, if a cow licks me, and . . .

Gloria: Franklin, you would have to eat it, and since you never touch red meat . . .

Me: Gloria, I think you should know our school bus does not have seat belts.

Gloria: I'll get someone on it right away, Franklin.

Me: It's Bus Number 987 in the Pelican View School District. In addition, I think the rear tires are overinflated, causing premature baldness. I was just wondering, Gloria . . .

Gloria: You won't get a note from me, Franklin, if that's what you're angling for. I think it's perfectly safe for you to go to the farm.

Me: Well, obviously, I'm concerned for the safety of all the students, not just myself. Recently, I noticed that several children have been coming to school with their shoes untied. These are young children, Gloria . . .

Gloria: Franklin?

Me: Yes?

Gloria: Do you ever think about girls?

Me: Girls, Gloria?

Gloria: I think it would be better for your health if you thought about girls rather than disasters. Stress plays a major role in the leading causes of death in this nation.



Well, let me tell you, I didn't have anything to say to that. I just had to hang up right then. After all, Gloria is a girl. How could I tell her that girls filled me with so much stress they ought to come with warning labels?


From the Hardcover edition.
Sue Stauffacher

About Sue Stauffacher

Sue Stauffacher - Donuthead

Photo © Roger Gilles

So this is the story of the story of how the Animal Rescue Team series came about. In the summer of 2007, my editor at Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, Nancy Hinkel, asked me if I’d like to propose a series idea. Before this, I had written what we call “‘stand alone”’ novels. A series—as I’m sure you know—is multiple books involving the same characters. Well, gee, that was like asking me if I wanted a frozen Snickers bar. (I love frozen Snickers’ bars.).

Years ago, I had written a book called “The Kids’ Guide to Wildlife Rehabilitation.” Wildlife rehabilitators rescued injured and abandoned wildlife and make them better so they can return to the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators work with everything from garter snakes to elephants, from pigeons to porcupines. I love wildlife rehabilitators. There’s never a dull moment when you’re hanging around them.

What a great idea for a family business! So I invented the characters in Carter’s’ Urban Rescue: kids Keisha, Razi, and Paulo, along with Mama and Daddy and Grandma. Then I got to invent their friends: Aaliyah, Zeke and Zack, Wen, Jorge, Samantha, and Big Bob! They live in the city of Grand River, which is a lot like the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I live. Other people in the book, like such as the principal of the kids’ school, the mayor, and the director of the zoo, are even named after the real-life people in my world. (I asked their permission first.). Finally, I just started collecting ideas from the newspaper. If you read the newspaper for about, say, four days in a row, you’ll understand the saying, “‘Ttruth is stranger than fiction.”’ Here’s the one a newspaper headline that got the ball rolling for Animal Rescue Team: “It’s no crock: Gator shows up in GR [Grand Rapids].”

It was interesting to read about an alligator on the south side of the city, but it seemed more interesting and, okay, a little more zany, if the alligator was found in the city pool. That’s how I do it. I take something that has happened, or maybe mush together a bunch of things that have happened, and then I add the magic ingredient—imagination—and I make up a story. Every Animal Rescue Team book has a section at the back where I explain to kids how I got the idea and then how I dressed it up. This is so kids will know what to do with all the ideas they get every day. It helps to write a few things down or take a few pictures with your cell phone, if that’s your gig. But in general, I don’t make up stories, I find them, like plastic cups on the sidewalk; and then I take them home and see what I can make of them.

My dog Sophie and my cat Fig, my boys’ experiences, my husbands’ rescue attempts, and my big old garden behind my big old farmhouse, are all great places to find stories. If I take Sophie for a walk in the woods, she likes to sniff out her own stories. (I can usually smell these later.). To help kids get an even more in-depth look at how I create, I add lots of details on my blog “Imaginerience.” You can get to my blog and see pictures of my garden and a video trailer of the book at my Web site www.suestauffacher.com. If you’re on Facebook, you can choose to “like” my Animal Rescue Team page and keep up with all the latest stuff I’m doing and even more animal rescue tips. I get very excited when kids tell me their own tips and also how the Animal Rescue Team taught them something that ended up benefitting wildlife.

The very best part of writing books is working with a whole team of super-creative people who make “‘plastic cups”’ look like crystal glasses. Our designer for the series, Sara Hokanson, and illustrator Priscilla Lamont make reading Animal Rescue Team as delicious as eating a frozen Snickers bar. And editors Nancy Hinkel and Allison Wortche worked with me to make the characters and the plot sparkle and shine. Together we’re the Animal Rescue Team Team! And we hope you have as much fun reading the books as we did creating them.
Awards

Awards

WINNER 2005 Summer Children's Books Sense Picks
WINNER 2006 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
NOMINEE 2005 Hawaii Nene Award
NOMINEE 2007 Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
WINNER 2006 Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Master List
NOMINEE 2005 Rhode Island Children's Book Award

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