Meet Franklin Delano Donuthead, a fifth grader with a lot of issues. To begin with, his last name is Donuthead. (“My name, if you must know, is Franklin Delano Donuthead. Try saying that to a class of fifth graders if you think that names will never hurt you.”) He also considers himself handicapped, because one arm and one leg are demonstrably shorter than the other. He should know because he measures his appendages incessantly. He is pathologically afraid of germs, junk food and making friends. His mother is trying to poison him with non-organic foods, like salami.Then the new girl, tougher-than-nails Sarah Kervick, who is not only mean but totally unclean, attaches herself to him and his mother, warts and all. What looks like a recipe for disaster becomes an unlikely but completely believable friendship that brings unanticipated gifts to them all.
In Donuthead, author Sue Stauffacher has created in Franklin a character both hilarious and touching. His first person narrative is painfully funny. I would like to share some of Franklin’s own words, which go a long way to explain why he has so much trouble keeping his blood pressure readings in the normal range.
On sports: You can have the mental fitness of a pretzel and the grace of a station wagon on black ice, and Coach Jablonski still has to take you on the team. Currently, I was being terrorized by the basketball team. Come spring, it would be the baseball team. for some reason, all the boys who like to pound on sensitive, asymmetrical guys like me are also attracted to Pelican View sports teams.
On Sarah Kervick:I’m sure my mouth just hung open. I’d never seen a finer host for parasites than the girl staring back at me. In less than thirty seconds, she would be sitting close enough for her fleas to change their address.
I could go on and on, since I find Franklin eminently quotable, but mostly I find Franklin to be eminently delightful and loveable. Even better for a Donuthead fanatic like me, there is a sequel entitled Donutheart!