What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that in this sequel to Donuthead, Sarah's father drinks, smokes, and is possibly abusive, though nothing is described. Also, Franklin is the product of a sperm donor -- young readers may ask what that is.
What's the story?
In this sequel to Donuthead, Franklin is now in middle school. He's still obsessed with germs and safety, is starting to notice girls, and has to deal with public bathrooms.
Franklin and Sarah continue to help each other. Sarah guards the bathroom for him, and Franklin helps her with skating and school. But things aren't going well in Sarah's life, and she and her deadbeat father begin hinting that they won't be staying around much longer.
Is it any good?
Try to ignore the hideous cover and the silly, pointless title. The hallmark of author Sue Stauffacher's books is characters so lovingly drawn, in all their quirkiness and (in Franklin's case, at least) neurosis, that the reader falls in love with them, too. In real life, someone like Franklin might be irritating and weird, but as the author allows us inside his head, his quirks and obsessions become endearing, and readers can easily see past them into his large heart.
In fact, heart -- as the title indicates -- is what this book is about: Franklin's heart, enlarging as he learns to see beyond his own worries; the hearts of the adults, who see what is happening to Sarah and are powerless to do much about it; and Sarah's heart, held so tightly protected, that opens like a flower when she skates. It's also about the author's heart, which she shares so generously; and, most especially, about the reader's heart, which will be touched and expanded by this delightful, funny, poignant -- but never sentimental -- book.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Franklin's obsessions. All of them are based in science and reality -- so why aren't they reasonable? Why is getting him to do unsafe things seen as beneficial?