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"From the Hardcover edition."
Sue Stauffacher is a professional journalist and has been writing a children's book review column for ten years. This is her first novel for Knopf. From the Hardcover edition.
Narrator Franklin Delano Donuthead deals with all the normal pressures of fifth grade, as well as a fairly advanced case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and a most unfortunate name. Franklin's fears control his every move and thought, and one of the book's most enjoyable sidelines is Franklin's friendship with Gloria, the chief statistician at the National Safety Department in Washington: "I avoid motor vehicles whenever possible. According to the National Safety Department, this is by far the most likely way to die as a kid. I also avoid all bodies of water (drowning's number two)." The 11-year-old is convinced that his arms and legs are slightly different in length, and keeps a daily log of their measurements. Into his extremely insular world comes a new classmate, Sarah, a rough tomboy who is his opposite in every way. Franklin's attempt to put distance between them are foiled by his mother's desire to help the girl, who clearly has a rough home life. Soon it is Franklin's turn to help Sarah who, like her father, cannot read. If the trajectory of this tale of empathy and growth is familiar, it's Franklin's engaging narration that will keep readers enthralled. Stauffacher's (The Angel and Other Stories) insightful novel offers a good-natured optimism as well as some hilarious asides from the obsessive hero. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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.