Donutheart’s Sue Stauffacher is the kind of writer who reminds you why you developed a love of reading. In eighth-grader Franklin Delano Donuthead, she has created a character who has you smiling and laughing out loud before the end of the first paragraph. Three pages in I was still laughing. Told in the infectious voice of a middle-grader who has developed a personal code based on his “interpretation of the principles set forth by President Roosevelt in the New Deal," Stauffacher uses humor to tell a deeper story about family, friendship, and dreams.
The big three in Franklin’s code are mental improvement, health promotion, and risk avoidance. Risk avoidance is a major part of his character. Franklin avoids germs and assesses all risk factors before moving forward. He knows to sit close to a teacher to be sure he has good grades and to blend in with others in the lunchroom to avoid being marked as “easy prey.” He thinks a lot about middle school bathrooms; the Pelican View Middle School bathrooms should be “avoided whenever possible.” That is not as easy as it may seem and the mere structure of the boys' bathroom is enough to send Franklin on a rant:
- 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 the 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 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.
While Franklin devotes a lot of brain time to the subject of the lovely Glynnis Powell, his actual days are spent with a wide-ranging cast of characters. From morning calls to Gloria Nelots, a chief statistician for the National Safety Department in Washington, D.C. to drive time with his vivacious mom, encounters with her new boyfriend, and lunches spent with his absentminded friend, Bernie - and Sarah.