Tag Archive | Sandra Boynton

Yay, You!


Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton

Simon & Schuster, 2013

Yay, you!

You did it! You’re done!

You made it! You’re through!

The plot in a nutshell:  A celebration of a milestone and a look to the future.

The book starts with a picture of a bear on top of a mountain, celebrating a recent achievement. Then the question of ‘what next?’ is posed and his smile slips a little. It’s suggested that the best plan is to examine all the choices and come up with a plan that works for you. It goes on to examine the different paths you can take and the ways you can get there. You’re urged to be introspective and think about your honest preferences in where you live, what you do and who you surround yourself with. There’s a reminder that it’s a good idea to stop and appreciate the small things once in a while and an encouraging ending that whatever you do will be wonderful, because it’s you doing it.

Bookshelf favorite Sandra Boynton gives us a lot of wisdom wrapped up in easy to read rhymes and her traditional whimsical animal drawings. It would be almost impossible to review this book and not draw a comparison to the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. They’re both great gifts for recent graduates or for anyone who may find themselves at one of life’s crossroads. In fact, the book even comes with a ‘Congratulations!’ gift tag on the opening page, with a space to write who the gift is to and from.  Although it may be geared toward adults, the rhymes and illustrations are still perfect for kids and it’s never too early to instill the message to make life choices based on your true judgement.


This office setup does not look like a good ergonomic situation.

It would be easy for a book like this to feel trite, but Ms. Boynton never lets that happen. She applies her offbeat sense of humor and comical style to both the pictures and the text, and suggests that every possible path can be a good one, as long as it works for you. There’s no judgement, for instance, in the comparison between the person who is climbing a mountain and the one who is simply reading about mountains (while enjoying delicious chocolate).  Having been a fan of hers for well over half my life, it was a particular thrill to meet her at Inspiration Day.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that when making plans for the rest of your life, it’s important to look at what you really want and go with your heart.


And She’s Back!


Yeah, so back at the end of July, I said I was going to slow down my posting frequency, but I wasn’t going to take a full break from posting.  I posted one review about a week later.

NothingAnd then I pretty much took a full break from posting.  Oops.

But the wedding is over (and it was beautiful and wonderful), the home re-organization is done (as much as projects like this are ever really ‘done’) and life is returning to its normal pace.

Most importantly, this weekend I took a road trip to Amherst, Massachusetts to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art for their Inspiration Day event. Inspiration, indeed!  The 10 authors/illustrators in attendance were Sophie Blackall, Sandra Boynton, Bryan Collier, Tony DiTerlizzi, Laurie Keller, Loren Long, LeUyen Pham, Jerry Pinkney, Robin Preiss Glasser, and Mo Willems. I was fascinated listening to them talk about their inspirations and thoroughly starstruck having the opportunity to meet and talk to them as they were signing books.


Here’s a picture of all the books we had signed at the event.

Every single one of the artists was warm, funny and gracious to their fans and they all clearly adore what they do. My daughter and I left inspired and overjoyed and I have a big stack of books to read and review here on my desk.  While I’ve already reviewed most of the books pictured above, I plan to feature the event artists over the course of the next few weeks.

As always, I got the question about how I fit into the picture book world.  Teacher? Librarian? Grandparent? I always say I’m just a fan but after this weekend, I think I will also use the word ‘collector.’ Because that’s an appropriate word for someone who buys and treasures works of art.


Hippos Go Berserk!


Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton

Aladdin Paperbacks, 1977

One hippo, all alone, calls two hippos on the phone.

The plot in a nutshell:  Lots of hippos enjoy a party.

The two hippos come over to keep the first one company.  Then three more hippos arrive, bringing four with them. The next five hippos come a little overdressed and then another six show up with a funny blue monster. While seven more hippos come in through the front door, eight more sneak in the back door. Nine hippos come to help out with the party and then the party is in full swing and lasts all night. In the morning, all the various groups leave to go home and the original hippo misses his 44 guests.

We had this book, from bookshelf favorite Sandra Boynton, when our kids were young and it was a big hit. Perhaps that may have been because whenever we reached the part of the book where all the hippos have arrived at the party and they all ‘go berserk,’ we would do likewise. (I sometimes forgot that the purpose of reading bedtime books was to settle the kids down.) But mostly we loved it because it was just a super fun book with a great rhyme scheme that was delightfully satisfying to read aloud.

Hippo Party

These hippos are getting ready to tear it up.

As the hippos leave, Ms. Boynton twists the rhyme a little by actually rhyming the penultimate words on each page, forcing the reader to vary their meter a little. Some reviewers found that frustrating (or tried to point it out as a mistake) but I loved it. To me, it always felt like a subtle little nudge to play around with structure and not always do what was expected. This is so much more than just a counting book.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is the more, the merrier.

The Going to Bed Book


Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton

Simon & Schuster, 1982

The sun has set not long ago.

Now everybody goes below.

The plot in a nutshell: A gang of animals on a boat prepare for bed.

Once the sun has set, all the animals go below deck to take a bath. Then they hang up their towels, change into pajamas and brush their teeth. After this, they go back up on deck for a late night exercise session in the moonlight. When they come back down, they’re moving more slowly and all ready for bed. They all climb into their beds, wish each other goodnight and are rocked to sleep by the motion of their boat.

My love for author/illustrator Sandra Boynton is well known and this book was one of the first books we got when my husband and I learned that we were going to be parents. Our original copy was a full size hardcover book, which seems to be pretty difficult to obtain these days, when it is more widely available in its board book version. I also highly recommend the book’s digital app, which we have for our iPad. The app gives you the option to read it yourself or hear it read by the intensely soothing voice of Billy J. Kramer and every page features absurdly delightful interactive elements, such as a boat you can rock by turning your tablet back and forth and a screen that steams up in the bathroom. Seriously, I’ve spent hours playing with this thing.


I hope someone is going to lift up the rabbit so he can spit.

I find it really funny that there is such a high level of criticism aimed at the fact that the animals get ready for bed and THEN go exercise. I get that this is not the usual order of events, but are these people looking for realism in a book about lions, elephants, hippos and bears getting ready for bed on a boat? This is one of those books that shows up at baby showers all the time and is included in lists of books that parents have memorized and remember for years to come. (I still know it by heart, thirty years after picking it up for our impending baby.) A must have book for bedtime.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that however you prepare for bed is the right way, as long as it ends with you falling asleep.

Chloe and Maude


Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton

Little, Brown and Company, 1983

Chloë loved to draw. She drew magical castles and angry dancing dragons.

The plot in a nutshell: Three stories about two friends

In the first story, Chloë loves to draw and her friend Maude doesn’t. When Chloë thinks that the snake she’s painted is a jump rope, Maude gets fed up and prepares to leave. But on her way out, she spills some paint and falls onto the paper. Chloë is impressed with Maude’s abstract painting and Maude decides to stay and paint some more. So while Chloë is busy painting castles and trains and wizards, Maude creates abstract art pieces with names like Adagio in Green and Sunset in Motion. They break for lunch and then they collaborate on a painting.

Fellow Doctor Who fans - doesn't that crack in the ceiling look familiar?

Fellow Doctor Who fans – doesn’t that crack in the ceiling look familiar?

Author/illustrator Sandra Boynton has been a favorite of mine for more than 30 years, when I only knew her artwork from a whimsical line of greeting cards that I loved. Since then, she has also become an author & illustrator of books for adults and children, songwriter, music producer and even filmmaker and director. A few of her books have been adorably re-created as interactive digital books for tablets and phones. In addition to her books and CDs, you can also buy plush versions and even jewelry of some her memorable characters.

This book was a favorite to read to the kids, because it was funny, relatable and heartwarming. My favorite of the three stories is the second one, in which Maude pretends to be Sophia, a more sophisticated cat who doesn’t do any of the mundane things that Chloë and Maude usually do together. These two characters behave like real kids and are good fun for kids and parents alike.

And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that friendship has ups and down, but good friends know how to manage it and always come out on top.