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Who Needs Donuts?
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Who Needs Donuts?

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  80 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 1973)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  373 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Rachel Hartman
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think my long-enduring passion for this book pretty much says everything there is to say about me. If you've never seen it before, well. It is the trippiest piece of work ever created. There are elephant-headed birds, cars coming out of people's ears, infinitesimally tiny (and hilarious) words in all the pictures, and just about the most Dada storyline imaginable.

When I was a kid, this was THE book. I would have married it, but that still isn't legal in Kentucky. I lost track of it for many
Lisa Vegan
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
Wow! I’ve never seen a book quite like this. It’s exceptional.

For a thorough and conscientious reader, it could take as long to read this short picture book as it would to read a novel.

The illustrations (black ink pen?) are incredibly and unbelievably detailed. They’re completely unique and can provide hours of fun. They’re often very funny. The dog with shoes is a riot, but it’s impossible to single out one or even dozens of examples. There are lots of words (on signs, etc.) within the
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Poor Sam. He had it all: a nice home, friends and family but he wanted more, lots more, he actual wants millions of donuts. What does Sam do? He hops on his tricycle and goes to the city to find them. You have to love the illustrations in the book. The attention to detail in the illustrations will keep you busy for hours checking out the people and the scenery that you just might forget to actually read the story. Illustrated in black-in-white, your eyes are constantly marveling at everything in ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A completely insane and a half children's book. Predating the style of WHERE'S WALDO, it's a simple-but-touching tale of a young boy dressed like a cowboy who wants millions and millions of donuts, but learns that caring about other people is more important.

The story takes two minutes to read; the illustrations take about 12 hours to dissect, if you're lucky. Stamaty fills every square inch of every page with gags and gags within gags. Birds with horse and elephant heads fly about; a restaurant
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite picture book, narrowly edging out Go, Dog. Go!
Cathy J
Dec 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
I love donuts, but kids should not run away to the big city and follow strangers into dark warehouses - even with the promise of donuts.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
So, so cool. Kind of psychedelic, tres seventies (it was originally published in 1973.) Although I shelved this a children's lit its fans are far more likely to be of the Woodstock-era and those currently residing in Colorado or Washington. Though I am not of the "Wow, dude," crowd there was something appealing and familiar about the Very intricate illustrations and hidden text in this picture book.
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I can't put into words what I think of this book. It was a gift from my brother for my 5th birthday. At the time, the book was out of print, so he photocopied a friend's copy for me, and bound it in paisley fabric. I colored in the pages for years. You could own this book your whole life, and still find new details every time through. It really captures the chaos of new york.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-library
46 months - An odd story with a lot of very odd illustrations. The illustrations are well done but it's just too much clutter for me. O didn't want to read the story at all until I insisted.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This definitely goes on the shelf with the far out picture books. It's a little cracked out, so not so much for the kiddos this one, but I dig it's weird story and comic style tableaux.
John Stanifer
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If Philip K. Dick had written a children's book after reading the complete works of Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll in one sitting, consuming a dozen donuts and six glasses of Guinness, and taking a twelve-hour nap broken by the weirdest dreams ever . . .

. . . I imagine it would have turned out something like this.

This book was an impulse purchase that I absolutely couldn't pass up after seeing the illustrations. The density of these illustrations puts Where's Waldo? to shame in places. There are
Amy Layton
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
This is probably the most bizarre picturebook I've ever read, and I've read some weird ones, nihilistic ones, and absurd ones. Sam loves donuts to the point where he goes all by himself to the big city to get even more. And he does get more--so many in fact, that he doesn't quite know what to do with himself. But those donuts come strangely in handy as a woman almost drowns.

Each illustration is incredibly detailed, filled with small jokes, puns, plays on advertising, metafiction,
Steve Tetreault
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Know going in that this is a really weird book. The plot is odd, and the drawings are odd - but incredibly, exquisitely detailed. I spent way more time perusing the absolutely hilarious and insane details of the backgrounds than I did dealing with the plot, which almost seems incidental to the artwork that was obviously lovingly crafted. This is a picture book whose value is in the images, and those images are so dense and detailed that a reader could go back to this book a dozen times and spend ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Surreal is an understatement. Definitely for a niche audience. Not for me. I give it two stars instead of one only because I admire it for being creative. The details in the pictures are easier to see than those of Peter Sís's works, but still much too much overwhelming and disturbing *for me.*
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not quite sure what to think of this book. The story is so-so, but the illustrations are fascinating. I recently listened to the Fuse 8 and Kate podcast where they discussed this book, and then I noticed it when I was shelving books in my library. I don’t think I would try it as a read aloud to a group, but as a lap read with a kiddo who loves illustrations, this could be pretty fun.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's a horse bird with a shirt pipe, which doesn't make sense until you see it and then you will say to yourself, "Well...yeah that's a horse bird with a shirt pipe, isn't it?"

We're going to read this twenty seven times this week.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The illustrations are stimulating (almost overly so for this day and age). But the tale is cute.
Steven W
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story is simple, but the artwork is exceptional. Full of weirdness, wordplay, and wonder. Jesse Thorn talked it up on his NPR show Bullseye, and if anything, he undersold how good it is.
Katherine Decker
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cute story. Amazing illustrations.
Penny Candy Books
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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Jenny Luebbe
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For some reason this was one of our *favorite* best books as children. Happy to see it back in print!
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
Completely bonkers. I loved it.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes good children's books
Recommended to Bev by: Richard
Shelves: childrens
Who Needs Donuts? is an absolutely delightful children's book by Mark Alan Stamaty (both story & pictures). I have no idea how I missed this one growing up. And only discovered it now thanks to my good friend Richard. In a conversation that started with the closing of H&H Bagels in NYC, we wound our way 'round to Who Needs Donuts. Richard was amazed that I'd not heard of this book. I managed to lay my hands on it (thanks to a deal with Amazon), have it delivered today and whizzed through ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sam lives in a house with a big yard and has lots of friends but what he doesn't have is donuts - and that is what he truly wants. He sets out for the city in search of donuts where he meets Mr. Bikferd, a man with a wagon full of donuts. Together they walk the streets in search of donuts. When Mr. Bikferd falls in love with Pretzel Annie, Sam is left in charge of the donuts. Sam saves an old woman with his donuts and learns that you don't need donuts when you've got love.

Originally published in
Rebecca Scala
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As an adult reader I love this book for its absurdist humor, inventiveness, and painstakingly intricate illustrations. My kids also love it but be forewarned that the protagonist is lured by a stranger into an abandoned building with the promise of donuts so some discussion of strangers and personal safety is required if you are reading it to children. I'm still giving this book all five stars because it is such an enjoyable multiple-sitting book that rewards the reader every time with fresh, ...more
This book is like Where's Waldo. It may not be a book you share with your whole class but it's a book that will always be in the hands of one of your students. The illustrations are so engaging and there is so much to look at and to find that a child could be lost in it for weeks without exhausting the pictures of things to find. The story is a simple story of a child setting out in search of something only to realize he's loved at home. I sat with this book for about 30 minutes just pouring ...more
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of library books to my kids which I don't bother adding to the Goodreads shelves, but I wanted to comment on the one we read tonight. This book is INCREDIBLE. We spent a good five minutes on each page and I'm sure tomorrow we'll be looking through it again. The amount of detail and thought that went into the illustrations is overwhelming. Good moral, too. This is one I'll need to own.
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Most wonderfully bizarro children's book ever. Catherine received it from her aunt for her birthday and both kids have been clamoring for me to read it and staring at the exceptionally-intricate illustrations ever since. I am dying to know what other people think the "donuts" represent. Idols? Higher education? Materialism? Wealth? And how it seems to start over again at the end? Still thinking about this book.
Jun 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This staggeringly detailed, surreal story begs for repeated inspection. And maybe a magnifying glass. My favorite thing is that when you get to the end, you are back where you started in the protagonist's front yard, and the first sentence of the book is written on his sidewalk. Very "circle of life." :)

"Who needs donuts when you've got love?"
Bill Lancaster
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
I don't normally read children's books, but I saw this on a shelf at Small World Books in Venice, California and was instantly taken with the intricate and witty black and white, pen and ink illustrations. They are marvelously intricate and detailed and often surreal. And a wonderful little story accompanies these amazing drawings.
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