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  • Donutheart
  • Written by Sue Stauffacher
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  • Written by Sue Stauffacher
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Written by Sue StauffacherAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Sue Stauffacher


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: March 11, 2008
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-375-84924-4
Published by : Yearling RH Childrens Books
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Franklin Delano Donuthead, star of Sue Stauffacher's Donuthead, is back and life continues to throw him lots of curveballs: he's now in sixth grade which means it's time for middle school, with all of its related terrors. He has to avoid whipping pony tails in the hallways, he's forced to use school bathrooms, with eighth graders, his life science teacher makes him blush like a tomato, his beloved Glynnis Powell may be moving ahead of him socially, his mother has a boyfriend, and his unlikely best friend, Sarah Kervick, once again needs more help than he thinks he can manage on his own. But thanks to his tough but kindhearted mother, the tough but kindhearted Gloria Nelots, and a little growing self-awareness, Franklin manages what it takes to pull Sarah out of another rough situation.

Sue Stauffacher has crafted another laugh-out-loud middle grade novel about Franklin and Sarah that once again overflows with Franklin's distinctive voice, a touching plot, wholly original characters, and a little Mercurochrome for good measure.

From the Hardcover edition.



Fear of Flying

In the course of human events, it is sometimes necessary to reduce one's water intake to delay natural functioning. Using the boys' bathroom at Pelican View Middle School was to be avoided whenever possible. I will spare you the details of my first visit; it's enough to know that it involved me, Franklin Delano Donuthead, an industrial-sized roll of toilet paper, and an eighth grader's knowledge of ancient Egyptian mummification techniques.

The problem is, the adolescent body is 75 percent water. And what goes in must come out. Just not in the boys' bathroom. Note that I did not say "the boys' and girls' bathrooms." All you need is a peek through the open door to realize that girls can attend to their business behind closed doors. I am still working through my feelings about this. Who decided--and then proceeded to tell generations of architects--that boys need less privacy than girls? Who? Girls are always saying they want everything to be equal. Hello? The restroom facilities are not equal.

Principles such as equality are as important to me as they were to my namesake, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "Rules," our late, great thirty-second president liked to say, "are not necessarily sacred. Principles are." So I maintain a strict code of conduct based on my interpretation of the principles set forth by President Roosevelt in the New Deal. These include:

Mental Improvement

Health Promotion

Risk Avoidance

The sad state of boys' bathroom facilities had not yet hit the national scene when FDR was in office. Understandably, he had to figure out the Depression and World War II first. Historians could also argue that FDR was more concerned with job security than risk avoidance. But I am living proof that times have changed, and the order of the principles needs to be shuffled around a bit for the new century.

So every time I stand outside the boys' bathroom, health promotion and risk avoidance start duking it out in my mind.

Health promotion: Pee! You've got to!

Risk avoidance: Are you kidding? Protect your vitals!

Health promotion: Use the staff bathroom by the office.

Risk avoidance: What if Coach Dilemming's in there!?

By the sixth week of sixth grade, my tendency to avoid risk was winning on a daily basis, and my lack of fluids was affecting my overall level of health so dramatically that I was forced to do what I try very hard not to.

And that is to interrupt the early-morning reverie of the chief statistician for the National Safety Department in Washington, D.C. Her name is Gloria Nelots, and I happen to know that at six-thirty a.m. she is at her desk at department headquarters, drinking a cup of very strong coffee with powdered cream and artificial sweetener and synchronizing her hand-held to her computer's notebooking system.

Gloria: This better not be you, Franklin.

Me: Is that how you answer an agency line, Gloria? What if I were your boss?

Gloria: I have it on good authority that he is on the treadmill in the company gym at the moment. (Long silence. Gloria is a bit grumpy in the morning.)

Me: Gloria, have you ever heard of a condition called "paruresis"?

Gloria: I can't say I have, Franklin.

Me: Really? I'm shocked.

Gloria: Well, are you going to enlighten me, or will I be forced to return to enjoying the early-morning quiet, which is the very reason I come to work before the rest of the department?

Me: Happy to. Basically, it's a fear of urinating in public.

Gloria: Last I heard, that was illegal.

Me: I'm not talking about the alleys next to bars, Gloria. I'm talking about designated public places. I'm talking about bathrooms . . . public bathrooms . . . as in the presence of other . . . well, boys . . . eighth graders to be precise. Members of football teams.

Gloria: You're having trouble letting it fly at school? Is that what you called me at 6:37 a.m. eastern standard time to discuss?

Me: Yes!

Gloria: My advice is, turn on the faucet before you unzip. Works wonders.

Me: But--

Gloria: The call buttons are lighting up here, Franklin.

Me: I don't hear any ringing.

Gloria: Nevertheless. Busy, busy. Oh, I almost forgot. How is Sarah? Has she picked out a costume yet?

Me: I'm afraid we're having a little trouble in that department as well.

Gloria: Really? You'll have to fill me in on that later. I'm still good for the bill. Have Julia send me the receipt straightaway.

Me: The trouble is . . .

Gloria: Good-bye, Franklin.

Why Gloria and my mother are so wrapped up in Sarah Kervick's life is a complicated matter that I haven't yet been able to completely puzzle through. Sarah arrived in Pelican View eleven months ago, during our fifth and final year of elementary school. At that time, my mother helped her out with certain . . . difficulties. Sarah does not at present have a mother, so she relies on mine to consult with about hair, clothes, and her overriding passion--figure skating. Gloria has also taken an interest and helps pay for Sarah's training and other expenses. I cannot for the life of me figure out why these two women should exercise what little maternal instinct they have on Sarah Kervick when clearly I, too, am in need of a mother's loving care.

Especially now that I am in middle school.

From the Hardcover edition.
Sue Stauffacher

About Sue Stauffacher

Sue Stauffacher - Donutheart

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.


“Funny and marvelously humane, it’s a worthy follow-up to [Franklin’s] debut, Donuthead.”–Kirkus Reviews

“[Franklin is] a character readers will like, and his trials are a wry, touching commentary on middle-school survival.”–Booklist

“An invitingly quirky story.”–The Bulletin

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