Once in awhile I am so grateful that I am not traveling through adulthood without children to protect me. I am newly 41 years of age, and without kids I would truly feel it. Or worse.
Once again, my kids have stumbled me over a great fun find, Who Needs Donuts by Mark Alan Stamaty. I found the book sitting on a table at the library in the kids section. I read it to the kids last night and then spent about thirty minutes myself just looking at the details in the pictures, like a kid myself. I might have to buy my own copy while it is still in reprint.
Each page of Stamaty’s book mixes the detail of a “Where’s Waldo” scene with a gently surreal absurdist outlook on life. Turns out that the absurdist style got the book panned by overly conservative reviewers at School Library Weekly (they obviously didn’t have children to protect them like I do!) when it was published in the 1970’s and Stamaty gave up children’s book publishing for a life of writing comics for the Village Voice, New York Book Review, and Slate. He was poor and needed to focus on forms that would actually earn him a living. (read a great interview about the book at Rands In Repose) Years later, one of the reviewers apologized to him and said her review was wrong, but it was too late, he had moved on.
So it turns out that if it weren’t for a few stuffy reviewers, Mark Alan Stamaty might well have been be one of the best loved children’s authors both kids and parents alike could adore. Then there would have been the animated series, the merchandising, and just maybe my kids would be watching Stamaty-toons instead of insipid-toons on cable today.
But instead, “Who Needs Donuts” is a rare gem and a “cult classic.” And it looks as if I am joining this particular cult. Thanks to my kids.