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Boynton, Sandra 1953-

Sandra Boynton
1953-

INTRODUCTION
PRINCIPAL WORKS
AUTHOR COMMENTARY
GENERAL COMMENTARY
TITLE COMMENTARY
FURTHER READING

(Full name Sandra Keith Boynton) American cartoonist, illustrator, lyricist, and author of picture and board books.

The following entry presents an overview of Boynton's career through 2004.

INTRODUCTION

Author-illustrator Boynton's whimsical menagerie of cartoon characters has attracted a wide popular audience through her enormously successful greeting card line and best-selling children's picture books. Known for her quirky wit, droll humor, visual puns, and zany animal characters, Boynton's most popular birthday card features a line-up of a hippopotamus, a bird, and two sheep on the outside, with the message inside reading, "Hippo birdie two ewe!" Her critically acclaimed children's books frequently appear in the "board book" format, a style of picture books utilizing thicker cardboard pages to make the book more appropriate and durable for preschool and toddler readers. Hippos Go Berserk (1977), The Going to Bed Book (1982), Moo, Baa, La La La! (1982), and Hey! Wake Up! (2000) represent some of Boynton's most recognized board books. She has also produced several thematic collections of cartoons—such as Chocolate: The Consuming Passion (1982) and Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways (2002)—targeted at both younger and older audiences. Beginning in 1996, Boynton began publishing a series of picture books accompanied by compact discs with original songs by Boynton and Michael Ford. These works include Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs (1996) and Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue (2002).

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Boynton was born on April 3, 1953, in Orange, New Jersey, and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she attended the Germantown Friends School. Her father, Robert, was an educator who went on to found Boynton/Cook Publishers. Boynton majored in

English at Yale University, graduating in 1974. During her junior year, she took an illustration course from the celebrated children's book author Maurice Sendak, who criticized her work for being more suited to greeting cards than children's books. In 1974 Boynton started graduate courses at the University of California at Berkeley Drama School and later transferred to the Yale University School of Drama. While in graduate school, Boynton began designing greeting cards and selling her designs to professional companies. She soon signed an agreement with Recycled Paper Products, a greeting card company based in Chicago that carried her immensely popular line of cards—totalling between four- and six-thousand separate designs—from 1974 to 1996. Numerous calendars, posters, t-shirts, and other spin-off products have made the cartoon animals featured in Boynton's cards even more familiar to millions of adults and children. In 1978 she married James Patrick McEwan, an author with whom she has four children. Boynton has illustrated two of her husband's picture books—The Story of Grump and Pout (1988) and The Heart of Cool (1999). Her first original children's picture book, Hippos Go Berserk—an introduction to counting through vibrantly colored illustrations and silly rhymes—was published in 1977.

MAJOR WORKS

Boynton is best known for her board book series, which focus on brief, humorous narratives aimed at enticing beginning and pre-reader audiences. She has written and illustrated several board books aimed at encouraging children to co-operate with bedtime and morning preparations, including The Going to Bed Book, Good Night, Good Night (1985), Snoozers: Seven Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids (1997), Pajama Time! (2000), and Hey! Wake Up! In Dinosaur's Binkit (1998), a baby dinosaur can't get to sleep until he finds his missing security-blanket. Boynton on Board (1993), a quartet of Boynton's board books with die-cut front covers, presents a series of stories focused on introducing basic concepts to young children—One! Two! Three! (1993) is a counting book, Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs! (1993) portrays the concept of opposites, Barnyard Dance! (1993) demonstrates the basics of dance, and Birthday Monsters! (1993) offers a lesson in tidiness and being considerate toward others. In 2003 Boynton published Fuzzy, Fuzzy, Fuzzy!: A Touch, Skritch, and Tickle Book, a touch-and-feel book that introduces children to different types of textures.

In addition to her board books, Boynton has also authored and illustrated numerous picture books for pre- and grade-school audiences. The well-known adage "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is the theme of Boynton's If at First … (1980), in which a tiny orange mouse struggles to push a gigantic purple elephant up a hill. After numerous attempts, the mouse finally succeeds in sending the elephant up the hill by blowing loudly on a trumpet. However, the mouse's work has just begun, as he looks down to see eight additional elephants lined up at the bottom of the hill. Boynton added a new twist to the traditional "A is for apple" alphabet book with her A Is for Angry: An Adjective and Animal Alphabet (1983), in which each letter pairs an adjective with an animal, such as angry anteater, bashful bear, ill iguana, loud lion, and so on. Chloë and Maude (1985), a chapter book for young readers, includes three narratives brought to life with watercolor illustrations, featuring the feline pals Chloë and Maude. Each story describes a conflict between the two cats, which is resolved by the end, further strengthening their friendship. Among Boynton's more recent picture books are the easy reader The Heart of Cool and Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On (2001), a rhyming book in the spirit of Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go.

In collaboration with composer Michael Ford and vocalist Adam Bryant, Boynton co-created two multimedia book and compact disc packages—Rhinoceros Tap and Philadelphia Chickens. Featuring lyrics by Boynton, Rhinoceros Tap includes a CD with eighteen playful songs sung from the perspective of various animals, performed in a wide variety of musical styles—calypso, big band, blues, do-wop, country, rock, and swing, among others. The book that accompanies Rhinoceros Tap provides musical scores, lyrics, and Boynton's familiar animal illustrations accompanying each song. Philadelphia Chickens, subtitled A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue, features nineteen songs and an illustrated book of Boynton's usual cast of zany animal characters. Each song in Philadelphia Chickens is performed by a different celebrity performer, including such notable actors as Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline.

CRITICAL RECEPTION

Boynton's children's books have been lauded for their clever use of rhyming text in conjunction with her signature whimsical bestiary of characters. Reviewers familiar with the author's greeting card illustrations have expressed approval of the transition of Boynton's cast of characters to the picture book medium. In her review of Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories (1999), Elizabeth Devereaux has argued that, "it's Boynton's signature cartoons, in her expert balance of tender and goofy, that will draw the crowds." Brenda Durrin Maloney has offered high praise for The Going to Bed Book, noting "Children will identify with the pre-bedtime activities and parents will enjoy sharing with very young children the rhyming text." However, some critics have commented that Boynton's greeting card background has contributed to a tendency toward blandness and cliche sentimentality in some of her children's works. Janice M. Del Negro, for example, has described Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On as "a thirty-two-page extended greeting card, with limited child-appeal and very little practical use in a children's library collection." Boynton's multimedia musical songbook collaborations have largely received glowing reviews, with Beverly Bixly describing Rhinoceros Tap as a "wonderfully zany collection of songs for children." Similarly, Jane Marino has acclaimed Philadelphia Chickens as "a revue without rival that will give children a jazzy, jiving, and undulating good time."

AWARDS

Boynton received the Irma Simonton Black Award for Chloë and Maude and the National Parenting Publications Award for Barnyard Dance!


PRINCIPAL WORKS

Hippos Go Berserk (board book) 1977; revised, 1996

Gopher Baroque and Other Beastly Conceits (cartoons) 1979

Hester in the Wild (picture book) 1979

The Compleat Turkey (cartoons) 1980; revised as Don't Let the Turkeys Get You Down, 1986

If at First … (picture book) 1980

But Not the Hippopotamus (board book) 1982; revised, 1995

Chocolate: The Consuming Passion (cartoons) 1982

The Going to Bed Book (board book) 1982; revised, 1995

Horns to Toes and in Between (board book) 1982; revised, 1995

Moo, Baa, La La La! (board book) 1982; revised, 1995

Opposites (board book) 1982; revised, 1995

A Is for Angry: An Adjective and Animal Alphabet (picture book) 1983; revised, 1995

A to Z (board book) 1984; revised, 1995

Blue Hat, Green Hat (board book) 1984; revised, 1995

Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book (board book) 1984; revised, 1995

Chloë and Maude (picture book) 1985

Good Night, Good Night (picture book) 1985

Hey! What's That? (board book) 1985

Christmastime (cartoons) 1987

The Story of Grump and Pout [illustrator] (picture book) 1988

Barnyard Dance! (board book) 1993

Birthday Monsters! (board book) 1993

Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs! (board book) 1993

One, Two, Three! (board book) 1993

*Grunt: Pigorian Chant from Snouto Domoinko de Silo (cartoons) 1996

Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs (board book) 1996; revised, 2004

Snoozers: Seven Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids (board book) 1997

Dinosaur's Binkit (board book) 1998

Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories (board book) 1999

The Heart of Cool [illustrator] (easy reader) 1999

Dinos to Go: Seven Nifty Dinosaurs in One Swell Book (board book) 2000

Hey! Wake Up! (board book) 2000

Pajama Time! (board book) 2000

Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On (picture book) 2001

Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways (cartoons) 2002

Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue (picture book) 2002

Fuzzy, Fuzzy, Fuzzy!: A Touch, Skritch, and Tickle Book (board book) 2003

Snuggle Puppy! (A Love Song) (board book) 2003

Belly Button Book (board book) 2005

*Grunt is accompanied by a compact disc, featuring chants with music by Boynton.

Rhinoceros Tap is accompanied by a compact disc, featuring songs with music by Boynton and Michael Ford.

Philadelphia Chickens is accompanied by a compact disc, featuring songs with music by Boynton and Michael Ford.


AUTHOR COMMENTARY

Sandra Boynton and BookPage (interview date May 2000)

SOURCE: Boynton, Sandra, and BookPage. "Meet the Author: Sandra Boynton." BookPage (online edition), http://www.bookpage.com/0005bp/sandra_boynton.html (May 2000).

[In the following interview, Boynton discusses her influences, her writing career, and other personal details.]

[BookPage]: Title of your new books:

[Boynton]: Hey! Wake Up! and Pajama Time!

Describe your books in 50 words or less:

Sturdy. Colorful. Shiny. Odd. Smallish. Subtle. Popularly-priced. Rhythmical. Droll. Non-edible. New! Catchy. Perhaps profound. Ebullient. Ever-so-slightly vertical; seemingly square.

What has been the biggest influence on your writing and artwork?

My family; fear of having to get a real job; chocolate (dark).

What was your favorite subject in school? Why?

English. Because you learn how to be articulate and stuff.

Who was your childhood hero?

Snoopy, Shirley Temple, Soupy Sales, Little Lulu, Fyodor Dostoevsky.

What books did you read as a child?

My favorite was Dickon among the Lenape, now inexplicably retitled The Indians of New Jersey.

Do you write and/or illustrate other types of books? If so, what kinds?

Most recently Grunt: Pigorian Chant , a book and CD of polyphony and plainchant in Latin and Pig Latin.

If you could trade places with one extremely famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

Tara Lipinski or Michael Jordan. I'd love to know the sublimity of transcendent physical excellence. And stuff.

What message would you like to send to all children?

"If you don't know the answer, fill up the space joyfully anyhow."

Sandra Boynton and Shannon Maughan (interview date 9 September 2002)

SOURCE: Boynton, Sandra, and Shannon Maughan. "New Zoo Revue." Publishers Weekly 249, no. 36 (9 September 2002): 22.

[In the following interview, Boynton discusses the inspirations behind Philadelphia Chickens and her collaboration with Michael Ford on the book's accompanying compact disc.]

Fans of Sandra Boynton's greeting cards and picture books well know that she is an animal lover. Her stable of humorous critters—from hippos to cats—has graced the pages of such popular titles as Moo, Baa, La La La and Snoozers. It's only fitting, then, that Boynton's latest project, "an imaginary musical revue" entitled Philadelphia Chickens (Workman, Oct.), came together like a traditional barn-raising, with the help of family, friends and neighbors.

The first person to sign on was Michael Ford, the composer and musician with whom Boynton collaborated on a previous musical picture book, Rhinoceros Tap (Workman, 1996). "We had always planned to do a follow-up," Boynton said. "But Michael has three kids and I have four kids, so trying to schedule it was a little tricky. We finally decided that we had to set an actual deadline and get a contract."

In addition to providing her signature illustrations and penning the lyrics for the "17½" songs touted on the CD (including an "intermission song"), Boynton cowrote the music with Ford. "On the first one, Michael did all the music," she explained. "In this case, the music and words came simultaneously for me, and Michael and I composed side-by-side. I cannot imagine a better collaboration."

As for the book's quirky title, Boynton, a Connecticut resident, admits it has no real significance. "I'm originally from Philadelphia and Michael is from Philadelphia," she said. "But the phrase 'Philadelphia Chickens' just popped into my mind. Philadelphia is such a great word in itself." She also credited a bit of inspiration to one of her daughter's classmates who was "truly chickens-obsessed." Boynton recalled, "They would greet each other by shouting 'chickens!'"

She Told Two People; They Told Two People

As Boynton's melodic chickens began to hatch, she knew that she wanted each of the songs, ranging in style from blues to swing, to be sung by a different person. And, ideally, each performer would also have great acting chops and be able to convey the theatrical elements of the songs Boynton describes as "small stories." Boynton began her casting calls close to home, enlisting son Keith and daughter Darcy, both college students and singers, to take part. Soon after, Philadelphia Chickens started flapping in a most serendipitous way.

"Meryl Streep is a neighbor," Boynton said. "Her four kids are my kids' friends. About a year ago, she came over when I was working on some of the tapes and I told her about the project. She said, 'Why don't you ask me?' So I did." When Boynton's friend, actor Laura Linney, heard about her landing Streep, Linney told Boynton, "Now you can get anyone!" Linney and Streep quickly called their own musical pals, including Kevin Kline and Eric Stoltz, and an all-star line-up was assembled, with Linney contributing as well. "People just kept asking people," said Boynton. The recording even has its own six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon cachet. "Kevin Bacon's son was in preschool with my daughter," Boynton said, explaining how the Bacon Brothers came to record two tracks.

Performers recorded songs in Boynton's living room and home studio, as well as in a studio in New York City. "It's uncanny how it all flowed," she commented. "There should have been enormous logistical problems."

With the book-and-CD slated for release next month boasting a 100,000-copy first printing, Boynton and Workman have something to cluck about. A seven-city "Barnstorming Tour" this fall, which may include appearances by some of the performers, will further boost Chickens ' profile. And continuing the helping-hand spirit of the project, a portion of the authors', contributors' and publisher's royalties are earmarked for the Cystic Fibrosis and Juvenile Diabetes foundations.

"How did this all happen?" Boynton asked. "Search me. But people could not have been nicer. It's been so much fun." The chorus lines of cows and chickens in her book look like they agree.

Sandra Boynton and Shannon Maughan (interview date 10 June 2004)

SOURCE: Boynton, Sandra, and Shannon Maughan. "Show Daily: Interview with Sandra Boynton." Publishers Weekly (online edition), http://www.publishersweekly.com/index.asp?layout=articleprint&articleid=CA425616 (10 June 2004).

[In the following interview, Boynton discusses the multimedia elements involved with her book Rhinoceros Tap.]

There's no question that Sandra Boynton—author, illustrator, songwriter, music producer, mom and (by her own admission) frustrated rock star—is versatile. Having launched a popular line of greeting cards with Recycled Paper Products in 1975, Boynton effortlessly segued into illustrating children's books in 1977. By the early '90s her thoughts (and her pen) turned to the stage, harking back to her days as a graduate student at both U.C. Berkeley and the Yale School of Drama.

Luckily for booksellers, this afternoon from 1 to 2 p.m. at table 28 Boynton will sign copies of Rhinoceros Tap (Workman), a new-and-improved edition of her 1996 title, which pairs a picture book with a recording of tunes inspired by musicals.

"Rhinoceros Tap is my first collaboration with my heroes and now great friends, Michael Ford and Adam Bryant," says Boynton, recalling the project's inspiration. "Mike is a composer and Adam is a musical theater actor. Between us, we have eight kids—wait, that doesn't sound right. Oh, well. As parents, we had all logged too many hours of listening to relentlessly perky and/or misguidedly didactic kids' music. We wanted to make a more nuanced, more musically savvy album, and no one thought to stop us until it was too late."

The result of this teamwork was a CD packaged with a book that Boynton had envisioned as "extrasuper-deluxe illustrated liner notes." Rhinoceros Tap hoofed its way to solid success on the heels of such songs as "Perfect Piggies" and "O, Lonely Peas," and gave Boynton the itch to do a follow-up. As Boynton and Ford (Bryant had other theater commitments) began work on Philadelphia Chickens (Workman, 2002), the bestselling book-and-CD featuring an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, warehouse stock on Rhinoceros Tap began to run low. "As CDs began to take over as the format of choice, we all realized the whole package should be redesigned," says Boynton. "We all agreed to let the inventory run out and re-release it with a ta-daaaa. We remastered the album, and I completely redesigned the book." The refreshed Rhinoceros Tap is also being simultaneously released as a CD-only from Rounder Records.

Those who have enjoyed the singing, dancing Rhinoceros and Chickens can take heart that Boynton and Ford have already begun work on their third coventure, Dog Train , tentatively scheduled for fall 2005 from Workman. This summer, Ford is moving from his Philadelphia home closer to Boynton's Connecticut stomping grounds to ease the process. "It's a true rock album," Boynton says. "What's great about rock hasn't been brought to children. Blues Traveler just recorded the title song. We are so cool now, there's no talking to us anymore," she jokes. (Well, except for booksellers …)

Sandra Boynton and Edward M. Eveld (interview date 23 June 2004)

SOURCE: Boynton, Sandra, and Edward M. Eveld. "Greeting Cards, Children's Books, and Song Books … Oh My!" Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (23 June 2004): K5613.

[In the following interview, Boynton discusses her career, her background as a greeting card designer, and her multimedia children's works including Rhinoceros Tap.]

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GENERAL COMMENTARY

Brenda Durrin Maloney (review date March 1983)

SOURCE: Maloney, Brenda Durrin. Review of The Going to Bed Book and Moo, Baa, La La La!, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 29, no. 7 (March 1983): 158.

PreS—An ark filled with assorted creatures, large and small, rocks on a deep blue sea as the sun sets in The Going to Bed Book. Moose, pig, rabbit and others descend below deck to prepare for bed by bathing in one large tub, donning pajamas of various sizes, brushing teeth and exercising. And when "The moon is high, the sea is deep—they rock and rock and rock to sleep." Children will identify with the pre-bedtime activities and parents will enjoy sharing with very young children the rhyming text. Moo, Baa, La La La! is about animal sounds. Comical animals say their piece, save for three singing pigs ("LA, LA, LA") "'No, no' you say, 'that isn't right. The pigs say OINK! All day and night.'" Cow, sheep, dogs, cat, rhinoceroses, duck and horse make appropriate sounds and when all are quietly gathered together at book's end the reader is asked what he or she might say. (Goodnight, maybe.) In both board books colors are bright, shapes large and wryly humorous and the rhyming texts are easy and fun.

Stephanie Cook (essay date 22 April 1999)

SOURCE: Cook, Stephanie. "Artist Sandra Boynton." Christian Science Monitor (online edition), http://csmonitor.com/cgi-bin/durableRedirect.pl?/durable/1999/04/22/p23s3.htm (22 April 1999).

[In the following essay, Cook provides a brief overview of Boynton's career.]

Sandra Boynton is best known for her whimsical greeting cards that mix animals and puns. A classic birthday greeting features a hippo, a bird, and two sheep. "Hippo Birdie Two Ewes," the message reads.

Ms. Boynton first sold greeting cards to friends and bookstores to help pay her tuition at Yale. When she graduated in 1974, she turned pro with a big card company.

Her quirky messages were a hit at a time when card choices were few. By 1980, she was selling 80 million a year.

She wrote many children's books, too: Hippos Go Berserk came out in 1979. Doggies and Blue Hat, Green Hat have sold millions.

Imitators flooded the market, and sales of her cards sank. She stopped creating new cards a few years ago, but her classic ones are still available.

"A lot of people think I disappeared because I don't aggressively market," she says from Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and four children. "My work is not the center of what I do. Home and family is key."

Olga R. Barnes (review date February 2001)

SOURCE: Barnes, Olga R. Review of Hey! Wake Up! and Pajama Time!, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 47, no. 2 (February 2001): 92.

PreS—Two rhyming board books [Hey! Wake Up! and Pajama Time! ] that present familiar concepts. The first one introduces morning activities such as yawning, stretching, breakfast, getting dressed, and playtime. The second title looks at the various sleep outfits that the endearing creatures put on before joining a pajama party: "Pajammy to the left. Pajammy to the right…. Everybody's wearing them for dancing tonight." Everyone finally settles down, the lights are turned out, and wishes are shared for a hushed good night. Boynton's characters are as lovable as ever, all with expressions sure to win over toddlers.


TITLE COMMENTARY

IF AT FIRST … (1980)

Publishers Weekly (review date 14 March 1980)

SOURCE: Review of If at First…, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 217, no. 10 (14 March 1980): 74.

In Boynton's new and expectably dippy divertissement, [If at First … ,] a tiny orange mouse is passionately determined to force a huge purple elephant up a hill. Failing to pull or push the giant upward, watching him sneer at the offer of a peanut as a reward for moving, the little fellow just grits his teeth and decides to "try, try again." Finally, he blows a blast on a trumpet that startles the elephant into lumbering to the hilltop. Then the mouse turns his attentions to the problem of getting eight more elephants up on the peak. (Never mind why. Enjoy.) Grown-up admirers of James Thurber may find a resemblance to the late genius's spoof of Longfellow's inspirational poem, "Excelsior!" in Boynton's view of the old adage and thus appreciate her book more than little ones do. (4-6)

CHOCOLATE: THE CONSUMING PASSION (1982)

Publishers Weekly (review date 16 April 1982)

SOURCE: Review of Chocolate: The Consuming Passion, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 221, no. 16 (16 April 1982): 68.

Boynton, whose endearing animals (especially hippos, rabbits and pigs) and pictorial puns enliven a line of greeting cards, notes that she has written [Chocolate: The Consuming Passion ] for "the chocolate elite." This is no small segment of the population, since, according to Boynton, 14 out of every 10 individuals like chocolate. There are "degrees of like," though, and this engaging volume is proof that Boynton is a chocoholic of the highest order. In a discussion of chocolate's "many faces," she profiles the numerous guises of milk chocolate (from kisses to bunnies). The author tells the inside and outside stories of boxed chocolates; sets to rest many "insidious" myths about chocolate (that it is a dangerous drug, is fattening or is bad for the teeth); presents several recipes; and examines the physiology and psychology of "chocophilia." Boynton's humorous drawings enhance her clever text.

Ben Reuven (review date 27 June 1982)

SOURCE: Reuven, Ben. Review of Chocolate: The Consuming Passion, by Sandra Boynton. Los Angeles Times Book Review (27 June 1982): 7.

Chocolate: The Consuming Passion by Sandra Boynton is a delightful little bonbon of a book. Sometimes playful, sometimes perfectly serious, always displaying a rich sense of wit and style, Boynton celebrates the joy of chocolate: making it, savoring it, eating it. By trade, she's a successful greeting-card artist, and what she does best is draw; Chocolate is populated with charming hippos, cows, rabbits and turkeys, all serving to illustrate her observations on the finer points of chocolate addition. Above all, Boynton is an unashamed member of what she calls "the Chocolate Elite—the select millions who like chocolate in all its infinite variety, using 'like' as in 'I like to breathe.'"

A IS FOR ANGRY: AN ADJECTIVE AND ANIMAL ALPHABET (1983; REVISED, 1995)

Hannah Pickworth (review date August 1984)

SOURCE: Pickworth, Hannah. Review of A Is for Angry: An Adjective and Animal Alphabet, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 30, no. 10 (August 1984): 56-7.

PreS-Gr. 1—Boynton's alphabet book [A Is for Angry ] introduces preschoolers to adjectives and animals beginning with each letter of the alphabet (except X): an angry anteater peers through the letter A while an angry ant is perched atop it. All of the letters are bold, the colors bright, and a great deal of white space gives the book a lean, sharp visual appeal. However, the pictures seem to blend together and are not distinct. Some of the adjectives used are very common, such as clean or dirty, while others are much more sophisticated, such as vain, jazzy, rotund. Stick with the many alphabet books of enduring quality.

CHLOË AND MAUDE (1985)

Janet French (review date March 1986)

SOURCE: French, Janet. Review of Chloë and Maude, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 32, no. 7 (March 1986): 144.

K-Gr. 2—In three brief stories [in Chloë and Maude ], Chloë and Maude experience the vicissitudes of friendship, bringing to mind such staples of the genre as Marshall's "George and Martha" series (Houghton) and Lobel's Frog and Toad (Harper). Steady, resourceful Chloë resolves Maude's bouts with ego problems and, in an overnight visit, an imagined menace on the bedroom ceiling. Young readers will probably find Maude's problems familiar ones; given a little help with a few exotic words, many will be able to read the book independently. Adults may recognize the neckless kitty figures of Chloë and Maude as kissing cousins of the droll little animals in Boynton's greeting card line. Despite their squat proportions, they have made the leap from card to book with considerable success.

THE STORY OF GRUMP AND POUT (1988)

Kathy Piehl (review date October 1988)

SOURCE: Piehl, Kathy. Review of The Story of Grump and Pout, by Jamie McEwan, illustrated by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 35, no. 2 (October 1988): 125.

Gr. 1-4—Grump berates all of the monsters in the forest [in The Story of Grump and Pout ], including her gloomy husband, Pout. When the village cobbler comes in search of new customers, he improves the monsters' lives with custom-made shoes. After he replaces Grump's worn, uncomfortable shoes with snazzy new ones, her grumpiness vanishes, and her marriage flourishes. The monsters hold a dance to celebrate. Boynton's pastel monsters and humorous pictures can't rescue the inane plot. The full-color illustrations vary in size, ranging from two-page spreads to comic strip format with four or six panels per page. However, the visual interest can't overcome writing that often seems aimed at adults rather than children. When the cobbler tries to convince the monsters to try his product, for example, he sounds like a bad television commercial. "Shoes can also keep your feet from getting tired, and can even relieve the backache that comes from improperly supported feet." Boynton lovers, podiatrists, or cobblers might get a kick out of this, but everyone else will probably find it as flat as fallen arches.

BOYNTON ON BOARD (1993)

Publishers Weekly (review date 31 January 1994)

SOURCE: Review of Boynton on Board, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 241, no. 5 (31 January 1994): 88.

The popular illustrator and greeting-card artist brings oddball humor and plenty of sassy energy to Boynton on Board , a quartet of concept board books. Each volume features a die-cut front cover framing a picture of its ebullient cartoon stars. A zany sensibility gives an extra bounce to the otherwise conventional counting book One, Two, Three! A similar silliness suffuses Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs! , which explores opposites. In Barnyard Dance! , farm animals dance a boisterous, breathless, knee-slapping reel called, with great panache, by a fiddle-playing cow: "Bow to the horse. / Bow to the cow. / Twirl with the pig if you know how." The rowdy crew in Birthday Monsters! bursts in upon a mild-mannered hippo and makes "the mess that monsters make," but returns to make amends. Fresh and buoyant, these books are good, clean fun. Ages 1-4.

RHINOCEROS TAP: AND 14 OTHER SERIOUSLY SILLY SONGS (1996; REVISED, 2004)

Elizabeth Devereaux and Diane Roback (review date 13 January 1997)

SOURCE: Devereaux, Elizabeth, and Diane Roback. Review of Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 244, no. 2 (13 January 1997): 37.

Boynton, best known for the whimsical menagerie of characters that graces her line of greeting cards, as well as bestselling books like Chocolate: The Consuming Passion , now adds [Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs ,] a kicky musical collaboration to her body of work. Clever kid-pleasing lyrics, replete with oinks, moos and quacks in all the right places, are perfectly paired with a smorgasbord of styles. A rhino in top hat and tails "skittery cats" through a big band tune in "Rhinoceros Tap" to get the good times rolling and, just a few songs later, the whole farm is ready to do-si-do in the square-dance-inspired "Barnyard Dance." Boynton's sense of humor flourishes throughout, especially in such numbers as the forlorn ballad "O, Lonely Peas," in which a rhino feels sorry for the unwanted vegetables he's left on his plate ("O, lonely peas, / So green and so round and so small. / O, lonely peas, / There's no one who loves you at all"), and the truly infectious "Tickle Time." Calypso, doo-wop, traditional rounds and even the blues all have a place in this chipper assortment. Bryant's vocals are given a workout in the inventive arrangements here, providing each selection with its own flair. Ford elicits a mind-boggling number of sounds from his piano and synthesizers and also includes a few rousing bits of hand-clapping and finger-snapping. The accompanying book contains music, lyrics and a parade of Boynton's well-loved beasts. All ages.

FYI: Boynton has simultaneously released an offbeat book-and-CD set for adults entitled Grunt: Pigorian Chant from Snouto Domoinko de Silo , also from Workman. This hilarious send-up of the recently popular Gregorian chant recordings features the Yale Glee Club singing such ditties as "Old MacDonald" in Latin and, yes, Pig Latin.

Beverly Bixler (review date July 1997)

SOURCE: Bixler, Beverly. Review of Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 43, no. 7 (July 1997): 57.

PreS-Gr. 4—Best-selling greeting card artist Sandra Boynton expands her repertoire with [Rhinoceros Tap: And 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs ,] this wonderfully zany collection of songs for children. Lyrics by Boynton and musical composition by Boynton and Michael Ford have produced such toe-tapping numbers as the Big Band style "Rhinoceros Tap" ; a traditional sailor song in which the sailor piggies sing about their captain; a calypso tune in which a moose sings about how much more he likes Alaska than the sandy tropics; the square-dance style "Barnyard Dance" ("Bow to the horse / Bow to the cow / Twirl with the pig / if you know how"); a mousy love song, "I Love You More Than Cheese" ; and several other equally whimsical numbers incorporating rock, blues, doo-wop, and traditional rounds. Adam Bryant does a magnificent job singing each of the ditties, accompanied by professional instrumentalists on keyboards and synthesizers. The lyrics in the book are accompanied by generous color illustrations of Boynton's trademark hippos, piggies, dogs, cats, mice, barnyard animals, etc. At the back of the book are simple scores for each song, including the melody line in the treble clef and chord markings. Children and adults will enjoy listening to the songs over and over, while pouring over the lyrics and illustrations in the book.

DINOSAUR'S BINKIT (1998)

Diane Roback, Jennifer M. Brown, and Cindi Di Marzo (review date 24 August 1998)

SOURCE: Roback, Diane, Jennifer M. Brown, and Cindi Di Marzo. Review of Dinosaur's Binkit, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 245, no. 34 (24 August 1998): 55.

Boynton's (Snoozers ) signature style showcases a restless baby dinosaur who can't go to bed without his (or her) security blanket in [Dinosaur's Binkit ,] this charming large-trim board book. Her rhyming text cajoles the little creature to settle down: "Dinosaur O Dinosaur, / you fuss and fret and yawn. / It's time to brush your dino teeth / and put your p.j.'s on." A silver foil moon, red felt blanket and yellow felt "binkit" (no ordinary blanket, that) are among the touchable elements: in one of the most amusing flaps, the wail "I NEED MY BINKIT!" is emblazoned across the inside of Dinosaur's big, pink, tooth-lined mouth. The book is cute without being cloying, thanks to the authorial voice, which softens from stern to sympathetic, and the dino's comic desperation. This light, witty treatment of the eternal subjects of the "blanky" and the bedtime tantrum will make a welcome addition to the bedside bookshelf. And with its felt inserts, it's a book kids can really cozy up to. Ages 3 mos.-5 yrs.

BOB AND 6 MORE CHRISTMAS STORIES (1999)

Elizabeth Devereaux (review date 27 September 1999)

SOURCE: Devereaux, Elizabeth. Review of Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 246, no. 39 (27 September 1999): 53.

'Tis the season to be silly, particularly when Boynton's at the helm. A tiny reindeer named Bob kicks off this set of seven merry poems [Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories ,] (and, in fact, sneaks into the other six). The verse is cheery ("The turkey is loud. The donkey is, too. / The rooster joins in, so why shouldn't you?"), the presentation crisp, and the board book packs an added bonus: as in Snoozers , a tabbed index allows little fingers to select a favorite tale in a trice. But it's Boynton's signature cartoons, in her expert balance of tender and goofy, that will draw the crowds. All ages.

Susan Patron (review date October 1999)

SOURCE: Patron, Susan. Review of Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 45, no. 10 (October 1999): 65.

PreS-K—Boynton's cartoon characters—reindeer, pigs, ducks, cows, and hippos—are big-eyed, round-tummied, and energetic. Each of these seven brief "stories" [in Bob and 6 More Christmas Stories ] occurs in its entirety on a double-page spread and is told in rhyme; the final selection is a lullaby, complete with music. Bright artwork, appealingly goofy text, and subjects of intrinsic interest (finding a box big enough to wrap a hippo in, a reindeer tinier than a teacup) add up to a winning, fun-filled formula.

THE HEART OF COOL (1999)

Elizabeth Bush (review date April 2001)

SOURCE: Bush, Elizabeth. Review of The Heart of Cool, by Jamie McEwan, illustrated by Sandra Boynton. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 54, no. 8 (April 2001): 310-11.

Polar bear Bobby doesn't just aspire to be cool enough to survive at his new school [in The Heart of Cool ], he is determined to be as cool as humanly—or in his particular case, animally—possible. Bobby idolizes Harry Haller, the celebrated "emperor of cool," and carefully copies his dress, mannerisms, and radical skateboard moves; he succeeds so well that Bobby virtually freezes one day in class, and only Harry recognizes that his protégé has, in fact, arrived "right at the center, right at the heart of cool." Of course, schoolyard royalty never reigns unchallenged, and Siggy Sidewinder dares Bobby to top his own skateboarding skills. Bobby gets so lost in the coolness of his awesome flight that he boards right out of the half pipe and lands in a hedge. He's lost his fans, but Harry seems to appreciate his experience: "You know, Bobby. Many catch air. Only a few take flight." McEwan steers early-chapter-book readers toward considering issues of peer pressure and self esteem, but the "cool is internal" message is inexplicit enough that kids may not grasp it. Is Bobby cool because he successfully emulates Harry? Is he cool because he finds his own psychic center? Is he truly cool in spite of or because of his flight and fall? Weighty matters, these, and the lengthy text doesn't have quite enough wit to sustain its momentum. Boynton's deadpan cartoon menagerie offers congenial company, however, and they and McEwan's wryly humorous tone may be enough to keep kids reading.

Augusta R. Malvagno (review date August 2001)

SOURCE: Malvagno, Augusta R. Review of The Heart of Cool, by Jamie McEwan, illustrated by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 47, no. 8 (August 2001): 156.

Gr. 2-3—An amusing addition to beginning-reader collections. Bobby North, a polar bear, makes friends with Siggy, Derek, Harry, and other animal students in his new school [in The Heart of Cool ]. When he realizes that Harry is the coolest kid there, he wants to be more like him. However, as kids will discover, his desire to fit in can take its toll on even the most determined. Bobby has a lot of catching up to do to reach Harry's state of "coolness" so he takes up skateboarding, the harmonica, and soccer. And, most importantly, he reads "cool books." Some of his friends question his coolness and he's invited to Harry's party to prove himself. Bobby tries to display his skateboarding talents but crashes. Back at school, the kids tease him but Harry remains his friend at the end. The text is accompanied by pictures of humorous, lovable characters in pleasing colors. Chapters range from three to four pages in large, well-spaced print. This book should warm the hearts of cool young readers.

PAJAMA TIME! (2000)

Kathy Barberich (review date 19 October 2000)

SOURCE: Barberich, Kathy. Review of Pajama Time!, by Sandra Boynton. Fresno Bee (19 October 2000): E1.

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YAY, YOU!: MOVING OUT, MOVING UP, MOVING ON (2001)

Diane Roback, Jennifer M. Brown, and Jason Britton (review date 26 February 2001)

SOURCE: Roback, Diane, Jennifer M. Brown, and Jason Britton. Review of Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 9 (26 February 2001): 84.

Like Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go!, Boynton's latest picture book [Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On ] seems geared more for the graduation gift market than the children's bookshelf. She strikes up a chipper note from the start, offering introductory congratulations of an unspecified nature to the reader ("You did it! / You're done! / You made it! / You're through!") then asks, "Now what will you do?" A tongue-in-cheek dash, in rhyme, through the many options life holds follows ("Do you long for adventure? / Do you love to read maps? / Would you rather stay home / with your chocolate, / perhaps?"). If Boynton treads a well-worn path here, offering advice that is somewhat generic and bland ("Whatever you do, / whether near or so far, / I know you'll be great. / You already are"), the artwork plays against the relentlessly upbeat tone and helps to hoist the book above greeting-card sentiment. Filled with her trademark bestiary of droll, quizzical characters, from a cow meditating in the lotus position ("oom") to a frog with an outboard motor attached to his lily pad ("some like to go fast"), the amusing scenarios will prod laughter from young and old alike. All ages.

Janice M. Del Negro (review date May 2001)

SOURCE: Del Negro, Janice M. Review of Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On, by Sandra Boynton. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 54, no. 9 (May 2001): 332.

Boynton opens [Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On ] with a congratulatory exhortation that ends on a questioning note—"You did it! / You're done! / You made it! / You're through! // OH, WHAT A GREAT MOMENT! // Now what will you do?"—followed by a series of potential life choices. Numerous possibilities (from where to live to discovering the meaning of life) are offered in jingly rhyme accompanied by Boynton's popular comic cartoon animals. While the author's other picture-book titles, especially Dinosaur's Binkit (BCCB 12/98), have veered away from Hallmark-y verse and concentrated a bit more on intended audience and plot, this title is clearly aimed at the crowd that gives Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go! (BCCB 3/90) to adults as a rite-of-passage present. This is a thirty-two-page extended greeting card, with limited child-appeal and very little practical use in a children's library collection.

CONSIDER LOVE: ITS MOODS AND MANY WAYS (2002)

Diane Roback, Jennifer M. Brown, and Jason Britton (review date 3 December 2001)

SOURCE: Roback, Diane, Jennifer M. Brown, and Jason Britton. Review of Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways, by Sandra Boynton. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 49 (3 December 2001): 58.

Arriving just in time for Valentine's Day gift giving, this bouncy volume [Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways ] should please the palates of those searching for a sweet confection for a special someone. An appealing menagerie of Boynton's inimitable animal characters court and cavort through these buoyant pages, demonstrating how love "comes in every shape, and style." Acting out emotions suggested by the minimal rhyming text, these critters demonstrate such phenomena as "hopeful love" (a rabbit's ears form the shape of a heart), "love extravagant" (an elephant presents his amour with an entire apple tree, roots and all), "love perhaps foolish" (a hippo dives head-first into a layer cake) and "love overzealous" (a beaver chomps heart-shaped designs on tree trunks). In a final spread, the animals gather together as the narrative winds to an unabashedly sentimental, sing-song close: "Now consider one love in the midst of the crowd—an affectionate love, neither timid nor loud…. A love that is steady, devoted, and true—Consider my love for incredible you." Aw, shucks. What's not to love—or at least like? All ages.

PHILADELPHIA CHICKENS: A TOO-ILLOGICAL ZOOLOGICAL MUSICAL REVUE (2002)

Kirkus Reviews (review date 15 October 2002)

SOURCE: Review of Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue, by Sandra Boynton. Kirkus Reviews 70, no. 20 (15 October 2002): 1527.

Once again, Boynton goes Broadway: "… having completely forgotten how much work had been involved," the creators of Rhinoceros Tap (1996) offer a second, equally effervescent musical revue [Philadelphia Chickens ], packaged as a hardcover book/CD combination. The songs mix chorus-line numbers—"COWS. / We're remarkable COWS. / And wherever we go, / it's a fabulous show, / Oh, you know we are COWS …"—with such individual arias as "Please, Can I Keep It?" "I Like to Fuss." and "Belly Button." All but two of the songs, which were previously published as board books, are new. The CD's 19 toe-tapping tracks are performed, with appropriate theatricality, by an oddball cast headlined by the Bacon Brothers, Meryl Streep, and (wait for it) Scott Bakula; the lyrics, decorated with typically stylish Boynton animals, are printed in a large-type, sing-along format, then reprised between musical notation. Ex-toddlers and their parents alike will happily cut the rug along with the title song's Pennsylvanian pullets.

Jane Marino (review date March 2003)

SOURCE: Marino, Jane. Review of Philadelphia Chickens: A Too-Illogical Zoological Musical Revue, by Sandra Boynton. School Library Journal 49, no. 3 (March 2003): 214.

PreS-Gr. 5—[Philadelphia Chickens , t]his "too-illogical zoological musical revue" is a glossy package of 19 songs that are recorded on an accompanying CD. In "Look as You Listen," each song is presented with a full-page, color cartoon. Part two, "Sing & Play Along," has musical annotations as well as additional verses for each tune, along with more illustrations. It's hard to say which is more appealing, the CD or the book. The songs, recorded by such celebrities as Meryl Streep, Laura Linney, and Natasha Richardson, cover a wide range of styles, many of which salute those of recognizable Broadway shows. Whether it's the rollicking, Chorus Line-esque "Cows" ; a rock-and-roll ode to the "Belly Button (Round)" that is "So round. So profound. So great to contemplate …"; or the pseudo-melancholy evoked in the ballad "Nobody Understands Me," this revue is packed with child-friendly hits. Boynton's wonderful characters romp through the pages: cows strut, chickens have attitude, and puppies snuggle, and there's even a blue dinosaur. Settle down with the book or take the CD along by itself. Either way, this is a revue without rival that will give children a jazzy, jiving, undulating good time.

FUZZY, FUZZY, FUZZY!: A TOUCH, SKRITCH, AND TICKLE BOOK (2003)

Publishers Weekly (review date 20 October 2003)

SOURCE: "Oh, So Touchable." Publishers Weekly 250, no. 42 (20 October 2003): 56.

Sandra Boynton's personable animals teach youngsters about textures as they beg to be touched in Fuzzy, Fuzzy, Fuzzy!: A Touch, Skritch, and Tickle Book. From a cow with tufty blue hair and a velvety pink nose, to a pig with shiny green sunglasses and a dog with "Rough / rough / rough" paw pads, these animals combine classic Boynton charm with a large touch-and-feel format.


FURTHER READING

Criticism

Boynton, Sandra, and Karen Heller. "Greeting-Card Queen with Corner on Cute Stands by Principles." Los Angeles Daily News (15 January 1997): L11.

Boynton discusses her background, her career as a greeting card designer, and her children's books.

Dirda, Michael. Review of A Is for Angry: An Adjective and Animal Alphabet, by Sandra Boynton. Washington Post Book World 14, no. 7 (12 February 1984): 10.

Assesses the strengths and weaknesses of A Is for Angry.

Soto, Natalie. Review of Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On, by Sandra Boynton. Rocky Mountain News (11 May 2001): 146.

Offers a positive assessment of Yay, You!: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On.


Additional coverage of Boynton's life and career is contained in the following sources published by Thomson Gale: Contemporary Authors, Vol. 126; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 53; Literature Resource Center; Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Ed. 2; and Something about the Author, Vols. 38, 57, 107, 152.


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