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Who Needs Donuts? Hardcover – September 23, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Originally published in 1973, Who Needs Donuts is a sweet visual feast that will have kids (and nostalgic parents) poring over its rich tableaus for hours. Every inch of each black-and-white page is covered in detailed, delightful drawings, at times bringing to mind the two-dimensional cartoons of Saul Steinberg, at others the scratchy realism of Lynda Barry’s comics. In fact, there is so much to look at in this short, simple story that new discoveries are sure to be made with each successive reading (of which there are bound to be countless).

Young Sam, clad (inexplicably, yet charmingly) in cowboy duds, already has a nice house with a big yard and lots of friends, but he feels nonetheless that something is missing. He mounts his trusty trike and heads for the big city in search of one thing: donuts, and not just a few, but "More than his mother and father could ever buy him."

His quest is rife with humor and adventure, not to mention a man in paisley suit and a woman named Pretzel Annie. Kids will adore the no-holds-barred kookiness displayed throughout (a street vendor selling fried oranges with optional mayonnaise; a "self-service" restaurant where the waiters look exactly like the customers), and adults will smile at the hippie-era moral that love is all you need. As the flap illustration warns, "This book is addictive," but this sugar habit need not be kicked. (Ages 5 to 10) --Brangien Davis

From the Inside Flap

Sam's love of donuts takes him to the Big City where he makes friends with Mr. Bikferd, a world class collector of donuts. But when Mr. Bikferd falls in love with Pretzel Annie, the prophecy of an old homeless woman comes true: "Who needs donuts when you've got love?" Mr. Bikferd bequeaths his donut collection to Sam, who uses it to save the old homeless woman from drowning in a basement flooded with coffee.
This is a reissue of Mark Alan Stamaty's masterpiece of the absurd, first published 30 years ago and out of print nearly as long. With an illustration style that mixes a benign Hieronymus Bosch with an urban "Where's Waldo?, Stamaty's off-the-wall humor is on target for little kids and big kids today.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375825509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375825507
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With any justice, Stamaty would be a household name with Sendak and Scarry in children's publishing. This book had a major effect on me as a child. Luckily for me, my school library had one tattered, well-read copy. I thought that I had the only remaining copy which I obtained a few years ago after a nationwide search. I even called Mr. Stamaty and he said he didn't have a copy (but maybe his mother did - he'd check.). Unbelievably detailed (after hundreds of readings I STILL find new things) and twistedly funny pen-and-ink drawings, bizarre characters, a profound moral message, and doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts! I'm writing this with the hope that one day it will be re-released so that more people could enjoy this book and appreciate Mr. Stamaty's obsessive genius. I still cannot understand why this book was a financial flop and so overlooked by critics when it was released (too weird?). Perhaps its time has come.
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Format: Hardcover
I started reading "Who Needs Donuts" in 1974, and have been making steady progress on it ever since. Someday, I hope to finish it. But that is unlikely, for this poignant story is filled with such intricate humorous detail, it is almost impossible to tell if you've completed it! This is a timeless masterpiece for readers of all ages, that until the reissue was available only to the lucky few who managed to get a copy in the 70s. Now that its back, everyone can and should know "Who Needs Donuts".
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Format: Library Binding
You will never again find a book like this unless Mark is crazy enough to create a sequel. I find it amazing that he drew all the illustrations at the printed size -- it must have given him quite a headache.
I was reading through it just now and found yet another very funny thing I don't remember seeing before (and burst out laughing) even though I've spent many hours looking at this book since I was a kid.
Unbelievably and beautifully detailed, with a vibe and feel all its own, Sam's world seems visually chaotic to us, the reader, yet Sams seems to fit right in as simply as can be. The story teaches against materialism and its pitfalls without being preachy or obvious, which made an impression on me at an early age.
This book is for adults as much as it is for children. My whole family competed for viewing time when I first bought it (at age nine) back in 1974. Now I get to share it with my daughters who seem to enjoy it as much as I have.
Now that Mark has gotten it reprinted, I have already purchased four new hardbound copies to add to my tattered perfectbound original, partly for friends, but also to just stick away somewhere should the book go mindlessly out of print again -- it took me forever to find my old copy buried in boxes.
Thanks, Mark, for a delightful romp through a world full of horsebirds, stupid puns, witty social commentary, every kind of human charicature, and the absurdity of animals and inanimate objects with attached thought and speech bubbles. We need to come up with a website where people can list the minutiae found on those carefully crafted pages.
This is easily my favorite book of all time. Please, Mark, make a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is wonderfully detailed and crazy! It will keep you entertained for hours. We would love to find a copy of it if we could. We haven't seen it since college. Every time you look at it, you find something new!
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Format: Hardcover
My husband was familiar with this book and Mark Alan Stamaty's work from his childhood, but I had never heard of him. Unfortunate, but this book is amazing. Our daughter loves the truly hilarious and absurd storyline. The pictures are all black and white, and they are DETAILED! Think Where's Waldo, but more crowded. This book can occupy your child for hours. We started reading it to DD at age 3 and she's now 6 and still enjoys thumbing through the pictures. I would definitely recommend to all your friends. The nice part about this book is that since it's not as widely celebrated as other childrens' books, it'll be a surefire hit for gifting to a child in your life.

Deserves more than 5 stars.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a little when this book was new, and I loved it. It is full of puns, plays on words and absurdities, which I think a lot of little kids love, especially when they're learning new things, like how to read. Point to something a kid has just learned and call it by the wrong name, and they will happily correct you and often think it hilarious that you don't know your dogs from your cats. This book is full of crazy things that kids know are insanely "wrong" and therefore funny. Just rereading the book today, they're still funny. Pigeons don't have horse's heads! Abraham Lincoln in New York? Walking a dog? Some things will be particularly funny to adults, and especially to New Yorkers: a store with a sign asking "all customers please go away," a pay phone with a sign that says, "Phone is not in working order. Place donation in coin slot," and a sidewalk food vendor selling "fried oranges with mayonnaise." Absolutely everywhere you look in this book, there are crazy things to see in Stamaty's incredibly detailed pen and ink drawings--drawings that make my jaw drop just to look at them and think of the amount of time and work that went into them.

The story itself is also silly but sweet, and speaks to little kid desires and fantasies and what would happen if a kid got to live those little kid dreams (the look on Sam's face when he is crazed with donuts is priceless). It's also about helping people and the importance of relationships. There's a lot going on in this little book!
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