Monday, May 17, 2004
Arnie the Doughnut
Keller, Laurie. 2003. ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0805062831 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
Stretching out on a plate in the kitchen of his “new home” with Mr. Bing, Arnie the doughnut is excited about his new life outside the bakery. Never suspecting himself of being merely snack food, Arnie is outraged that his purpose in life is to be consumed. Suddenly he realizes that his friends at the bakery are also in peril. When he finds out his fellow breakfast confections consider it a matter of pastry pride to be eaten for breakfast, Arnie resigns himself to his fate. Fortunately, Mr. Bing has a change of heart, and the two embark on a mission to find a new vocation for the doughnut. Hilarity ensues as Arnie’s career prospects are presented to him. A fitness trainer, a ballroom dancer, a bodyguard, a bowling ball, and a doorstop are just a few ideas he rejects. Just as Arnie is about to return to the bakery, Mr. Bing has a revelation: Arnie could be his pet. Arnie becomes a “doughnut-dog,” complete with leash and collar.
Keller’s colorful acrylic illustrations create a wacky world populated with anthropomorphized pastries with distinct personalities. The crullers have French accents, the bear claws growl like grizzlies, and the cinnamon twists dance to old time rock and roll music. The story itself is funny, but it is Keller’s side-stories within the illustrations and the painstaking attention to those details that will attract readers for repeat visits to this alternate reality where any doughnut with enough gumption can have a chance at a “normal” life. Readers will be attracted to the goofy and whimsical illustrations as much as the witty and outrageous text. By blending comical escapades of an unlikely heroic doughnut, with clever and intelligent details, Keller has created a winning recipe.
Encourage readers to scour the illustrations searching for Keller’s colorful use of language and humor. See if older students can find some of the more ironic references, and discuss the author’s use of irony to expand the story.
Younger children can discuss other possibilities for Arnie and create illustrations of Arnie in his new career.
Arnie saved himself by challenging the idea that doughnuts could only be eaten for breakfast. Discuss with readers how they can challenge preconceived notions and stereotypes they encounter in their lives.
Other books by Keller that could be compared to this one:
THE SCRAMBLED STATES OF AMERICA. ISBN 0805068317
OPEN WIDE: TOOTH SCHOOL INSIDE. ISBN 0805061924
By Lea Ann Gilbert