Cover of the book, showing a sea captain inside a giant doughnut.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.

Spread shows text in a circle box on one side and facing page shows the art in a circular box, as if it has been cut out of the facing page.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.

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Children around a globe.

Happy Halloween!

Books in the Scientist in the Field series look and feel like a picture book (albeit hefty ones at 80 pages). They get shelved with nonfiction picture books. But inside, they’re middle grade material, complete with chapters.

They’re also totally engaging. Every chapter in this book features a different scientist working on some aspect of bat conservation. The photos are wonderful and the text accessible. It’s not a read aloud, but by the time I was finished, I was starting to plan how to build a bat house for my backyard.

And if you enjoy The Bat Scientists, be sure to check out The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery,  by Sandra Markle, another middle grade read masquerading as a picture book. Its gripping true story will have you cheering for the bats around you.

The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson, photos by Tom Uhlman. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.