Tag Archive | Sandra Boynton

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.