Grades 3-5: Donuthead, Sue Stauffacher, Knopf Books for Young Readers,

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Grades 6-8: The City of Ember, Jeanne Duprau, Random House

Past Winners


Books by Stauffacher and Duprau selected as 2006 White Book Award Winners

EMPORIA, KANSAS - A story about a fifth grader with a lot of problems and a story about a city where it is always night with no moon or stars have been selected as the 54th Annual William Allen White Childrens Book Award Winners.

Donuthead by Sue Stauffacher is the 2006 White Award winner in the third to fifth grade category and The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau is the winner of the sixth to eighth grade 2006 White Award, according to Joyce Davis, dean of the University Libraries and Archives at Emporia State University and Executive Director of the White Awards Program.

The White Awards Program, which is the nations first statewide readers choice award, is directed by Emporia State University and is supported by the Trusler Foundation.

More than 57,000 Kansas boys and girls in the third through eighth grades participated in the voting for this years awards. The boys and girls voted for their favorite book from master lists chosen by the White Awards Book Selection Committee, which is made up of representatives of educational institutions in Kansas, Kansas educational and professional organizations concerned with children, classroom teachers, and school or public librarians working with children.

Stauffachers Donuthead , is the story of Franklin Delano Donuthead, a fifth grader with a lot of problems  His last name is Donuthead and he considers himself handicapped because one arm and leg are shorter than the other (by less than half an inch). His mother tries to poison him with non-organic foods (like salami), he doesnt have a father, and Sarah Kervick, the new girl, whos mean and totally unhygienic, is attached to him like glue. This novel features a scared boy and a tough girl who each help the other in more ways than they can imagine.

Sue Stauffacher is a professional journalist and has been writing a children's book review column for ten years. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dupraus The City of Ember is about a city where it is always night. There is no moon and no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of "day" comes from flood lamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. "Besides," they tell each other, "there is nowhere but here". Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves--and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. No one seems to wonder what happens when the generator finally fails, but twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet. They have just been assigned their life jobs--Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic "Instructions for Egress," they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way to the city of light of which Lina has dreamed.

Jeanne Duprau has written several books of nonfiction for children and adults. She has been a teacher, an editor, and a technical writer. The City of Ember is her first novel for middle graders. She has published a sequel, and a prequel is scheduled to be published in 2006.  She lives in Menlo Park, California, where she keeps a big garden and a small dog.

Since 1952, more than 2,800,000 votes have been cast by the children of Kansas to select the annual winners of the White Book Awards. The White Award Program was founded by Ruth Carver Gagliardo, a specialist in Childrens Literature, to honor the memory of one of the states most distinguished citizens by encouraging the boys and girls of Kansas to read and enjoy good books. Gagaliardos dedicated and inspired leadership guided the White Award Program from 1952 until her death on January 5, 1980.


Donuthead, Sue Stauffacher
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-92468-X
COST; $15.95


SYNOPSIS: Franklin Delano Donuthead is cursed with a name that’s an insult, a fear of germs and anything unhealthy, the schools worst bully and a mother who eats junk food. When he meets the new girl, Sarah Kervick, a rough and tumble, opposite force an unlikely friendship develops.

GENERAL REVIEW: Franklin is afraid of everything, Sarah is afraid of nothing. They couldn’t be more opposite but they may just be good for each other. Franklin is a very bright, very cautious boy who sees the world as full of danger and disease. He is on a first name basis with the chief statistician of the national safety board and he is sure that he is handicapped because one leg and one arm are slightly longer that the other. When Sarah Kervick enters Franklin’s life she turns everything upside down and challenges his view of the world. She is struggling to be “normal” even though she has trouble reading, lives with her father in a old, rusty trailer and has no money for clothes or even enough food. The adventures they encounter are interesting and Franklin’s perspective gives everything a special twist. It is a fun read and an entertaining look at an unlikely friendship.

THEMES: Friendship, Courage, Fear, Single parent families

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Sue Stauffacher lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two sons. Her web site is

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Standard 3 Benchmark 3

What does it mean when someone quotes the phrase “All you have to fear is fear itself?”

How many of the dangers that concern Franklin are present in your classroom? Are they things that are likely to happen? What should you do about such dangers?

Franklin is a pacifist. Sarah doesn’t believe in putting up with any “crap”. These are two extremes of dealing with bullies. How do you recommend dealing with bullies?

Sarah and Franklin both live in single parent families. Is that a major factor in how they see themselves? Why?


Do a survey of the potential safety issues in your classroom and school. What can you do about them? Standard 9 Benchmark 3

Research pacifists. What do they believe? What groups are identified as pacifists? What happens during a time of war? Standard 3 Benchmark 3

Research your school’s policies about bullies. How much of a problem is it? What happens to someone who attacks another student? What can you do about it? Standard 4 Benchmark 1

The City of Ember

Jeanne Duprau
Random House, 2003
Grade Level: 6 th – 8 th
ISBN 0-375-92274-1

Author Information:

Jeanne DuPrau has been a high school English teacher, an editor, and a technical writer. The City of Ember was her first novel. She has also written a sequel, The People of Sparks.

Author Websites:


In the city of Ember, children leave school at the age of twelve and are assigned a job to “serve the city.” There are many assignments that must be filled to keep the city functioning properly: greenhouse helper, building repairer, clerk, messenger, pipeworks laborer, and the most important of all, electrician. Without the generator and electrical system that keeps Ember alight for twelve hours a day, the city would be in perpetual darkness, just like the unexplored Unknown Regions that surround them. Lina and Doon are schoolmates who share the same Assignment Day. They grow increasingly aware that their beloved city is deteriorating as the electrical system becomes less and less stable, and essential supplies dwindle. Lina’s discovery of an ancient, forgotten message for the citizens of Ember may be the means of saving the city, if only she and Doon can decipher its significance before the lights go out forever.

General Review:

The intrepid young hero and heroine of this novel will capture the imaginations of middle school readers, as the pair race to find a way to save their city from extinction. Readers are drawn into helping Lina and Doon decipher and interpret the message that will show them the way to help their people survive. The author’s use of language imparts a sense of urgency and impending doom that keeps the story moving.

Discussion Questions:


  • What is the meaning of the word “ember?” Why do you think this was chosen as the name of the city?
  • When Lina heard “The Song of the City,” she felt “a rush of joy and sadness mixed together.” What songs can you think of that affect you emotionally in this way?
  • Even though it made leaving more dangerous, Lina found she couldn’t leave Poppy behind. Who (or what) would you have to take with you if you were leaving home and might never be able to come back?

Activity Suggestions:

  • As the people of Ember used up the supplies that were stockpiled for their survival, their standard of living deteriorated over time. Have students identify resources (renewable and nonrenewable) that have an impact on their community, then have them design posters that promote conservation, production, or consumption of their resource. Kansas Library Media Standard 3, Benchmark 1
  • Doon has difficulty locating the information he needs in the Ember Library. Have students analyze his problem, and describe how information is organized in their school library to make information access easier. Kansas Library Media Standard 1, Benchmark 5

Lina and Doon had to piece together parts of a document and gather meaning from it, even though some key elements were missing. Challenge students by having them identify documents through a similar process, providing parts of words and spacing gaps for them to infer information through their prior knowledge of spelling, word choice, and sentence structure. Kansas Library Media Standard 3, Benchmark 3