Who Needs Donuts?

Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty By Mark Alan Stamaty

Published 1973 by Dial Press, reprinted 2003 by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

At first glance, the answer to this book’s title is pretty clear. Because, everybody. Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty But do you know this book? When I mention it to someone, I either hear about their favorite jelly donut (the one with strawberry), or they lose their sprinkles over the magnificence of this screwy tale.

The simplicity of the setup:

Sam lived with his family in a nice house.

He had a big yard and lots of friends.

But he wanted donuts, not just a few but hundreds and thousands and millions — more donuts than his mother and father could ever buy him.

Finally one day he hopped on his tricycle and rode away to a big city to look for donuts.

The scattered spectacle of the scene, a commotion in black and white. On those initial pages alone:

A bird in swim trunks

A roof-mowing man

A chimney blowing ribbons

A man in the window reading a newspaper with the headline, Person Opens Picture Book Tries to Read the Fineprint

Two donuts

And a cinematic, get-ready-for-your-close-up page turn. (Be sure to look closely in the blades of grass.) Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty There’s almost a calm in the chaos. It’s regular and rhythmic and pandemonium and patterned all at once. Perfect for a story that’s a little bit bonkers and a whole lot of comfort.

So. Then what? Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty The relative calm of Sam’s neighborhood yields to an even madder and mayhem-ier sight.

Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Then Mr. Bikferd and his wagon of donuts shows up.

And a Sad Old Woman. And Pretzel Annie.

Sam continues to collect donuts. Stocks and piles of donuts. Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty A wagon breaks. A repairman helps. A love story. Abandonment.

(A fried orange vendor. A bathing zebra. Rollerskates. A Sad Old Woman.)

Who needs donuts when you’ve got love? Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty When Sam rides home, the words that began his story are on the sidewalk. I get the shivers about that.

The starts of stories are carved in concrete.


P.S. – These pictures remind me a little of what I’m seeing for Steve Light’s new book, Have You Seen My Dragon? Check out this review where Betsy Bird notices the same, and this post at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, because it’s always a treat. I also think of the hours I’d spend as a kid studying each square centimeter of The Ultimate Alphabet. Like Waldo, but weirder.

Willoughby and the Moon

by Greg Foley

{I didn’t realize until today that I bought a signed copy from Hennessy + Ingalls. So cool.}

Willoughby Smith could not sleep.

Anxious, restless Willoughby discovers that the moon is just outside his bedroom door, and quickly comes to the rescue of a snail who can’t find his favorite silver ball. The snail is afraid of even more things than Willoughby. Willoughby faces his biggest fear with confidence, and gains a whole crowd of friends in the process.

This book made me do a double take. It’s slightly unassuming, but then, just in the right light, it sparkles. The illustrations are primarily black and white, but rivers of glossy silver pack quite a visual punch. The pages are rich in texture; the silver shines alongside its matte black and white counterparts. Also, in addition to flat color, halftone patterns pepper the shadows for an extra layer of lovely. In design, contrast refers to the differences in two elements. Black versus white is a stark, simple, and highly effective design choice.

In Willoughby and the Moon, black, white, and silver perfectly echo the night adventures of Willoughby and the snail. Nighttime is a monochromatic world, and Willoughby’s sparkle is in the silver. Color would have been the wrong choice for this book.

Greg Foley’s design choices complement the story perfectly. They also guide the reader’s mood and prepare his heart for Willoughby’s nighttime adventures.

One final design not to miss:

The back cover may not be an obvious location for dynamic illustrations, but how clever is this? The back cover is the flip side to the front. The moon now occludes the title, and you see the silver shelled snail, left in the moon dust as Willoughby travels back to his bedroom. You have also travelled to the moon and back, just in time for bed.


Another winner from the incomparable Suzy Lee. {And the Christmas present from my boyfriend that made me promise to never holler, “BUT YOU DON’T GET ME!” ever again.}

This story is mainly wordless, and begins at the very, very beginning: the endpapers.

The click of a lightbulb in a dark, dark attic creates an imaginary (or not?) playground for one very effervescent bob-haired girl.

Suzy Lee once again uses the gutter as a sort of wall between what is real and what is imagined. Ordinary objects on the left side become fantastic and extraordinary on the right. Or perhaps the left page is the top and the right page is the bottom? Reading this story is quite an interactive experience, because the reader is constantly turning the book around in circles before the turn of the page.


The lightness or darkness of a color is called value. Value is closely related to contrast, as dark vs. light is one of the easiest ways to produce contrast in a design. One of the greatest features of Shadow is how your perspective is constantly changing while reading, both as you study the illustrations and as you physically turn the book in circles. A variation in light and dark tones is an excellent way to move your viewer’s eye through a design. Check it out:

See how the lines on the left are static and steadfast and your eyes do not travel up and down the column? Contrast that with the middle and right stacks of lines, and you can easily see how value is used to direct your eye.

Suzy Lee does the same thing in Shadow, even when the little girl’s world grows peculiar and wild.

And just like that, CLICK goes the lightbulb once again. No more change in value, no more shadows. The end.