A Few Quick Kidlitosphere Announcements
The Wheat Doll: Alison Randall

The Donut Chef: Bob Staake

Book: The Donut Chef
Author: Bob Staake (blog)
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8 

The Donut ChefAlthough he's more widely known for his New Yorker covers (Time Magazine selected one of these gorgeous covers as the number one magazine cover of 2008 - see a detailed post about this by Paul Giambarba), I love Bob Staake's work in picture books. Mary Had a Little Lamp (which he illustrated) is one of my favorites, and I also recently enjoyed Trucks Go Pop!, a playful pop-up book. Naturally, then, I was pleased to receive a copy of Staake's The Donut Chef a few months back.

The Donut Chef, written and illustrated by Bob Staake, is the story of a donut maker who gets so caught up in competing with a rival baker that he loses sight of what customers really want. He makes donuts in all sorts of crazy flavors and shapes, to the point where they can barely be called donuts at all. Things get out of hand, and the customers start to look sickly. Fortunately, the donut chef is reminded of his roots by a young, wistful customer, and his business is saved.

Staake's rhyming text is humorous and kid-friendly, with passages like this:

"They tried new shapes beyond just rings--
Their donuts were such crazy things!
Some were square and some were starry,
Some looked just like calamari!
Some were airy, some were cone-y!
Some resembled macaroni!"

But it's his trademark colorful, geometric illustrations that make the book. Every page is chock-full of people with perfectly round heads (in greens and reds and purples), interspersed with others who have parabola noses, or sweeping curtains of hair. Each character is unique and quirky, yet clearly identifiable as part of Staake's world. The rival donut chef has a sly look to his red face, while our hero donut chef's eyes reveal his own temporary madness, even as his smile stays in place.

The illustrations also reveal hidden treats for the careful reader, such as a billboard atop a roof, offering "personal transportational flying saucers for $19.95 (available now!)", an elderly woman with knitting needles sticking out of her bun, and a tiny mouse peeking around the wide leg of the donut chef. The crazy donuts, though not palatable to the customers (imagine eating a donut that looks like a snail!), offer a visual feast for the eyes, an engaging pattern of colors, patterns, and shapes.

I recommend The Donut Chef to fans of Bob Staake's work, and to anyone looking for a colorful smorgasbord of a picture book. It is pure fun! 

Publisher: Golden Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2008
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Shelf-Employed, Amanda, InfoDad, {little blog of stories}
Author Interviews: Drawn!Just One More Book! (podcast about Staake's contribution to the Love of Reading Gallery)

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.