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.


  • Mary Zisk
    Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I love that book and have it! The detail is insane and inspired my own pen and ink work (at a much simpler level)

  • Posted March 31, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I seriously LOVE this blog. I can’t believe what awesome stuff I discover by following you. This book is incredible!

  • Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Thanks!

  • Posted March 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    That is one amazing book…the illustrations just scream: “I’m from the early seventies…I may be weird, but try as you might, you can’t help but like me!” 🙂

  • Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m a gem from the seventies myself! 🙂

  • Posted March 31, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Just put it on hold!

  • Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful! And I love that the main character’s name is Sam, same as my son’s.

  • Posted April 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Carter, your review morphed a wonderful children’s picture book into a love story several times over. I pride myself on being an artist, but you go beyond. You see things in the subtle and make them sublime – thank you for sharing your vision through another’s story. It’s a beautiful thing – like fresh donuts and hot coffee.

  • Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh, gosh. Thanks AnnMarie! That is the sweetest compliment I could ever hope to read. Here’s to fresh donuts and hot coffee!

  • Posted April 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    And weekends!
    Have a great one 🙂

  • Posted April 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    So much fun to encounter this here! I read this book to my sons in the way back years and just the other day bought a copy for my granddaughter at a used book store (maybe our old copy!). And, once, long ago, I screenprinted a quilt with cascading donuts and titled it “Who Needs Donuts?” – and always wondered if anyone got the reference. You would have!
    Thank you for this very interesting, informative, and just plain fun site!

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