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Children's Literature at New York Public Library

Syd Hoff: A Birthday Celebration on September 4, 2012
by Louise Lareau, Managing Librarian, Children's Center at 42nd Street

Do you remember the first time you read a book by Syd Hoff? If you were too young to read on your own, maybe someone in your life shared the book with you. For some, books such as Danny and the Dinosaur, Grizzwold, Barney's Horse and Sammy the Seal bring back vivid childhood memories. For others, these books were discovered as one's children or grandchildren began to explore the world of children's books.

Syd Hoff did not set out to be a children's author. Born and raised in New York, Syd started his career as a cartoonist after studying fine arts at the National Academy of Design. Syd sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker when he was 18. He became a regular contributor to The New Yorker as well as other national magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Look. During the 1940s, Syd drew a nationally syndicated cartoon called Tuffy. It was not until 1958, however, that his career as a children's author took off with the release of Danny and the Dinosaur. Syd went on to write and illustrate over 60 books for beginning readers.

September 4, 2012 will mark what would have been Syd's 100th birthday. Sadly, Syd passed away in 2004 at age 91. The Children's Center at 42nd Street will be hosting birthday festivities for Syd on Saturday, September 8th. Come in and join us for stories and crafts. Decorate a birthday hat and listen to Carol Edmonston, Syd's niece, as she reads some of Syd's stories. "Mr. Dinosaur" will be coming to the party, thanks to the generosity of HarperCollins Publishers, so do not forget to bring your cameras. Please call the Children's Center at 212-621-0208 to register for the program.

For more information about Syd Hoff please visit the Official Syd Hoff Website at

Dinosaur Dance
Librarian Louise Lareau (top right) and staff
Librarian Louise Lareau and Dinosaur fans

Danny & the Dinosaur craft activities for children
Carol Edmonston, Syd's niece

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Syd Hoff: Finding Home Exhibition
Curated by Dina Weinstein

The Syd Hoff: Finding Home exhibition traces the life, achievement and influences of the prolific Miami Beach-based cartoonist, children's book author and illustrator. Hoff's storybook characters' quests for belonging often bring them right back to where they started. Hoff was born in the Bronx, NY in 1912 and moved to Miami Beach in the 1950s. He died in 2004. Hoff is best known for his I CAN READ books Danny and the Dinosaur (1958) and Sammy the Seal (1959). He drew cartoons prolifically for many publications - almost 600 cartoons for The New Yorker and two long-time comic strips for King Features Syndicate. Syd Hoff: Finding Home, planned for his 2012 centennial, places Hoff in the context of his contemporaries and events of the time. Image and text panels include Hoff's work with the Lyrical Left in the 1930s, his New Yorker cartoons focusing on outer-borough tenement dwellers and his comics and cartoons. Displays of Hoff's made-in-Miami/Cold War/Baby Boom children books highlight recurring themes and his book-making process.

June - October 2012 - Miami Beach, Florida Regional Library

October - November 2012 - Broward Main Library in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida

February 2013 - Temple Beth Sholom gallery, Miami Beach, Florida

March and April 2013 - Alachua County Library Headquarters, Gainesville, Florida

Curator Dina Weinstein and Syd's niece, Carol

Danny's Dinosaur and fans
Selection of Hoff's children's books



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Literary Landmark Dedication Ceremony

Program cover

Miami Beach home of children’s book author Syd Hoff
declared a historic literary landmark
By Melissa Cáceres ~ February 11, 2013

Noah Karp Cohen’s favorite children’s book is Danny and the Dinosaur by prolific author Syd Hoff.

And Noah, 7, and his brother, Adam, 11, learned how to read through Hoff’s tales of dinosaurs, seals and bears in their family’s modest Miami Beach home — the same house at 4335 Post Ave, where Hoff lived and wrote more than 60 books of his HarperCollins “I Can Read” series.

“We feel very blessed to be living around the aura of Syd and his creativity,” said Carol Karp, the boys’ mother, who along with her husband, Jonathan Cohen, owns the home.

The house was named a historic literary landmark Sunday by the American Library Association and the Florida Center for the Book, receiving a bronze plaque that recognizes Hoff’s legacy as a children’s book writer and cartoonist.

The Betsy Hotel, which hosts writers at its South Beach location year-round, also announced at the dedication ceremony that it will be helping other children’s authors by launching the Syd Hoff Children’s Writer Residency program. The residency offers a 10-day stay at The Betsy for writers to further develop their novels for kids.

“Today’s child readers are tomorrow’s adult readers,” said Deborah Briggs, vice president of marketing, philanthropy and programs at the hotel. “This residency seemed like the best opportunity for us to celebrate one of Miami Beach’s greatest writers.”

Dina Weinstein, who created an exhibition of Hoff’s work and led the initiative to dedicate the house as Florida’s 18th literary landmark, said preserving the structure is important so that others can remember Hoff.

“It is a pleasure to know that Syd lived here and to note that today at his home,” said Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, who attended the ceremony.

Historic literary landmarks, according to Jillian Kalonick, spokeswoman at United for Libraries, are not always the birthplaces of the authors; the site could be where they once lived, wrote or considered significant in their lives as writers.

Hoff, who was born in the Bronx in 1912, lived more than 40 years in Miami Beach, penning several of his greatest works like Sammy the Seal, Danny and the Dinosaur, Grizzwold and Stanley. He died in 2004.

Hoff’s niece, Carol Edmonston, said she always gets asked what it was like growing up in Hoff’s family.

“To me, he was always ‘Uncle Syd’ before anything,” Edmonston said. “He was an incredibly humble man.”

She created a website dedicated to her late uncle and continues to archive his life’s work, which spans almost a century.

Amada Eagon, a graphic artist from the Caribbean, lived next door to Hoff during his final years and remembers the cartoonist more as a good friend who would always called her “babe.”

“We use to draw together all the time in his house,” said Eagon, who learned about Hoff’s extensive career only after he died. “I would draw the things that I enjoyed like fashion and he would sit there doodling dinosaurs and funny cartoons.”

More than 750 of Hoff’s humorous doodles were published in The New Yorker between 1931 to 1975, drawing upon his own experiences, the immigrant Jewish population and the Depression.

But for many readers, Hoff’s characters in children’s literature remain timeless, still influencing today’s generation of children and children’s book writers alike.

“To this day, kids still send letters to my uncle,” Edmonston said.

Neighbor Amada Eagon, homeowner Jonathan Cohen, Dina Weinstein, Carol Edmonston, Mayor Matti Bower, homeowner Carol Karp

Syd's niece, Carol Edmonston with Literary Landmark replica


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American Library Association News

Syd Hoff home designated a Literary Landmark by United for Libraries

PHILADELPHIA — The Miami Beach, Fla., home of children’s book author and cartoonist Syd Hoff was designated a Literary Landmark during a ceremony on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

Hoff (1912-2004) created “Danny and the Dinosaur,” “Sammy the Seal” and more than 60 HarperCollins I CAN READ books for children. More than a dozen are still in print. The Bronx-born Hoff also published more than 500 cartoons in The New Yorker, as well as for King Features Syndicate, The Saturday Evening Post and more. Hoff’s publishers also include Scholastic and Dial Press. He lived at his home in Miami Beach from 1957 to 2001.

Carol Edmonston, Hoff’s niece and creator of the official Syd Hoff website,, was among those who spoke at the dedication ceremony. In culmination of Hoff’s 2012 centennial, the exhibition “Syd Hoff: Finding Home,” curated by journalist Dina Weinstein, was on view at Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach from Feb. 4-11.

Partnering with United for Libraries for the dedication was the Florida Center for the Book.

The Literary Landmark program is administered by United for Libraries. More than 120 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began in 1986. Any library or group may apply for a Literary Landmark through United for Libraries. More information is available on the United for Libraries website.

2/12/13: Jillian Kalonick ~

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