The origins of some everyday objects are lost. But in The Hole Story of the Doughnut, Pat Miller goes back to a 1916 newspaper article to unearth the story of the doughnut’s beginning. It’s actually a humble tale. A sixteen year old ship’s cook experimented with a way to get rid of the undercooked center of a fried breakfast cake. And it worked!
Miller describes the much more exotic origin stories that popped up around the doughnut–that a cake was speared on a ship’s wheel during a gale, or that it was designed to look like the lifesaving ring that had snatched a sailor from certain drowning death. The back matter even tells about a dastardly plot to seize credit for the doughnut. But eventually Hanson Gregory’s rightful claim to be the inventor of the doughnut was restored.
The book is appealing since it’s about a food we all love, but it’s also an important look at innovation. Kids–and all of us–may imagine that inventions and innovations require extraordinary circumstances. But this book is a gentle reminder that more often innovation happens in everyday ways as people notice and try to solve problems. The book would pair beautifully with Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan McCarthy or Miracle Mud by David A. Kelly, both about how the process of invention works to solve everyday problems.
The design of the book and the illustrations by Vincent X. Kirsch are delightful. Every spread mimics a doughnut, with one page having the text in a white circular text box clipped out of the illustration, while the facing page presents the circular illustration that has been cut out to make room for the text.
You can listen to an interview with the author here.
The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin: 2016.
I participate in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge every Wednesday at Kid Lit Frenzy. Come join us!