The title of this book is the main character's last name (coming from his Russian great-great-great-great grandfather, Donotscked). His first and middle names are Franklin Delano. He is a 5th grader obsessed with safety and the presence or absence of germs. By the end of the book (or sooner), readers will identify with and grow to love poor Franklin, as he deals with life in a way only he can muster. His mother works for the cable company and he knows nothing of his father, as he was a sperm donor. The explanation of this situation in the first few pages was the only objectionable part of this otherwise marvelous story (Do 10 or 11 year olds really need to be exposed to the concept of sperm donation?). His only friend is the chief statistician for the National Safety Department in Washington, with whom he speaks on a weekly basis. That is, until a new girl moves to town and joins his class. Sarah Kervick, who is a thoroughly unhygienic specimen, becomes Franklin's greatest ally, through a number of unpredictable events. Kindness, sensitivity, courage, belief in oneself, lack of prejudice and acceptance are all themes that are dealt with maturely in this very likable and readable story. Recommended. 2003, Alfred A. Knopf, Ages 9 to 12.
Cindy L. Carolan
Gr 4-6-"My name, if you must know, is Franklin Delano Donuthead. Try saying that in a room full of fifth graders if you think names will never hurt you." Franklin's mother is a "cable guy," his father, an unknown sperm donor. His life in the small town of Pelican View is changed forever when he meets Sarah Kervick, a new girl who's so neglected that her long hair is a rat's nest of tangles. Franklin is compulsively careful and clean, and holds lengthy phone conversations with a woman at the National Safety Department. Sarah is almost exactly the opposite, and doesn't "take crap from anyone." When she wants him to steal wart remover for her, Franklin's primary fear of prison is "-bathing barefoot." Their prickly relationship is cemented by Sarah's affection for Franklin's gem of a mother, who wants him to play baseball, but is just as happy to discover Sarah's talents in this area. There's a lot going on in this story, it's true, but the author succeeds in smoothly carrying the action to a satisfying conclusion, and in delivering some lovely messages about kindness and hope and being true to yourself. It's refreshing for a novel with problem situations to be so light and funny. An appealing story with some memorable characters and a lot of heart.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Stauffacher takes a stock premise-an improbable friendship between two psychologically opposite 11-year-olds helps them both mature-adds some smartly executed secondary characters and themes involving the importance of courage, hope, and dreams and turns it into something unique and magical. It's narrated in the pitch-perfect, painfully funny first-person voice of Franklin Delano Donuthead, a boy cursed with an unfortunate moniker, an unknown sperm-donor father, a fearful personality, and an unhealthy obsession with germs. His life, which is ruled by a philosophy of risk-avoidance, changes dramatically when Sarah Kervick, who is filthy, tough, and deeply determined, joins his class, and in a delightfully surprising turn of events is befriended and later hired by Franklin's sharply drawn baseball-loving mother. In time, the children forge an unlikely yet completely convincing alliance, enabling each to grow in ways that makes them more, as Sarah puts it, regular. Touching, funny, and gloriously human. (Fiction. 8-12)