"The wild popularity
of a new donut shop brings on the kind of competition that no
donut- lover wants, the kind where traditional glazed and sugar
donuts give way to such imposters as Gooey Cocoa- Mocha Silk
and Cherry- Frosted Lemon Bar. Donutland, filled with familiar
round donuts and an equally round chef, has lines of hungry people
out the door. A pencil-thin competitor gets wind of the success
and throws down the yeasty gauntlet: "Your shop is through
/ When my store opens next to you!" When the donut war escalates
beyond absurdity, it takes a wise girl to remind the grown-ups
that sometimes simple is best. Told in rhyme, the story meshes
nicely with Staake's familiar, multicolored people and geometric
style. High-energy illustrations invite young listeners to explore
the busy street scenes for details. When the round chef, toting
a single glazed donut, leads the sweet parade off the last page,
all will know that sanity has returned. Pour a tall glass of
milk for this yummy treat."
one-up each other with increasingly experiimental fare (calamari
donut, anyone?) until their customers no longer recognize the
results as donuts. The pro-simplicity parable is told via a funny,
funky art style."
books are meant to be tasted, Sir Francis Bacon told us, and
"The Donut Chef" appears to be one of them. Read this
picture book aloud to a child between the ages of 2 and 6 and
you may find that you have to pause while your auditor grabs
at the page and makes gobbling sounds. For here are gloriously
sugary images: great rows of parti-colored doughnuts slathered
in frosting; platters of doughnuts lavishly coated with sprinkles
-- yum! The story itself is fairly thin: A chef opens a doughnut
shop and is so successful that he attracts a competitor right
next door. The two chefs begin dueling for customers by concocting
increasingly bizarre and elaborate confections: "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!" The excess becomes wretched, but only
when a small child requests a basic glazed doughnut does anyone
realize it. " 'Hey, I like glazed!' a voice chimed in. /
'Me too! I LOVE 'em! Where've they been?' / Then all the people
sang in praise / Of simple donuts dipped in glaze!" Bob
Staake won plaudits for "The Red Lemon" in 2006, and
though this subsequent children's offering lacks the restrained
graphic chic of "Lemon," its computer-enhanced illustrations
share the same exuberant mix of modern and retro. Mr. Staake's
work is all spheres and angles, with color that is sometimes
saturated, sometimes airbrushed -- but always visually delicious."
The Wall Street Journal
even delicious book for children ages 3-5, Bob Staake's
The Donut Chef celebrates not only the yummy fried circular treats
but also the notion of old-fashioned comfort food. The chef is
a huge, round man drawn in Staake's inimitable circle-upon-circle
style; indeed, he looks a bit like a donut (or doughnut) himself.
And he succeeds by diligence and skill: "That donut chef,
he worked so hard/ By mixing flour, sugar, lard./ He baked his
donuts fresh at dawn,/ Then hoped by noon they'd all be gone!"
In fact, the chef is so successful that he attracts a competitor
obviously a bad guy, since he is drawn as a thin, angular
character with a perpetual smirk. The two side-by-side shops
compete first on price, then on frills (extra frosting, weird
flavors), and then by baking their wares in really odd shapes:
"Some were square and some were starry,/ Some looked just
like calamari!/ Some were airy, some were cone-y!/ Some resembled
macaroni!" Staake's illustrations here are hilarious
but there is a serious (well, semi-serious) point made as well:
the chefs are so wrapped up in their competition that they are
neglecting their customers, especially the children, for whom
the new baked goods had "lost their soul." It is left
to "little Debbie Sue,/ A teeny girl, just barely two,"
to point the original Donut Chef in the right direction
back toward the traditional glazed donuts that the little girl
and, it turns out, many, many other customers remember fondly
and want to be able to eat again. So all ends happily, except
for the upstart chef, who is left with trays of weird concoctions
that no one wants to buy anymore as all the good citizens
of the town (drawn in very different, equally amusingly misproportioned
ways) celebrate with the original chef and Debbie Sue. This is
a delightful book with a throwback message and definitely
not for calorie counters.
chefs compete for customers by concocting ever more exotic offerings
in this eye-catching title from the creator of The Red Lemon.
Geometric art in spun-sugar-smooth colors produces a vintage
feel; relayed in jubilant rhymed couplets, the story, too, pays
tribute to simple pleasures. As each chef innovates, his goods
become less and less appealing: "We've donuts laced with
kiwi jam,/ and served inside an open clam!/ Donuts made with
huckleberry/ (Don't be scared; they're kind of hairy)."
Only a girl's request for a glazed donut stops the insanity.
The real fun here lies in the visuals: the rotund chef, winking
with a semicircular eyebrow and smiling his half-moon-shaped
smile; bakery displays of impossibly gorgeous goods; fantastically
tall or wide passersby. Everywhere readers look, there are delectable
surprises. Ages 35
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
illustrations (are) a stylistic collision of Russian constructivism
and pop art, (and) explode with energy playing off of basic geometric
shapes and angles and swimming in saturated colors."
(picture books) are notable for the sophistication of their graphic
design. Simple enough to hold the attention of toddlers, these
colorful, computer-enhanced images are also visually interesting
enough to please preschoolers and parents as well."
modern, crisp illustrations ... practically jump off the page."