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Syd's death was headline news in newspapers and magazines across the country, from the Los Angeles Times to Washington Post, including Time magazine, and banner news on CNN. Here is the New York Times article….

Syd Hoff, 91, Who Illustrated a Boy's Ride on a Dinosaur, Dies

New York Times
May 17, 2004

Syd Hoff, a prolific children's book author, illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker who was best known for "Danny and the Dinosaur," an enduring best seller for beginning readers, died on Wednesday at his home in Miami Beach. He was 91.

His death was announced by Josette Kurey, a publicist for Harper Collins, which published many of his more than 60 children's books in its popular "I Can Read" Series.

"Danny and the Dinosaur," the story of a towheaded boy who rides on the back of a brontosaurus out of a natural history museum, has been translated into a dozen languages and sold more than 10 million copies since it appeared in 1958, according to HarperCollins. Mr. Hoff's signature style was the use of simple, appealing shapes outlined with a thick, fluid ink brush.

Many of his tales involved escapist fantasies and animals, like "Sammy the Seal," who is let out of the zoo and attends elementary school. Like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," Mr. Hoff's animal characters come to the conclusion that although the grass may look greener outside the circus or beyond the peddler's wagon, there's no place like home.

Born in New York, Mr. Hoff studied at the National Academy of Design and often used urban settings and characters of the 50's, including numerous uniformed workers and women with matching hats and bags.

In the autobiographical series "Something About the Author," Mr. Hoff recalled that his life was changed when Milt Gross, a popular cartoonist for the Hearst Syndicate in the 1930's, speaking at his high school assembly, told him in a voice loud enough for the entire school to hear, "Kid, someday you'll be a great cartoonist!"

Mr. Hoff sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker at age 18 and was a regular contributor throughout his life. His cartoons were published in a dozen collections. He also had bohemian roots in Greenwich Village: his mural decorated the walls of Barney Josephson's basement Cafe Society jazz club alongside those of Ad Reinhardt and John Groth.

At Harper, Mr. Hoff benefited from his association with Ursula Nordstrom, the eminent children's book editor. In a lengthy letter dated December 1957 and republished in "Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom," she wrote a line-by-line critique of Mr. Hoff's mock-up for "Danny and the Dinosaur," with meticulous comments like: "Pages 18 and 19 seem very resistible to me, Syd. The rest of the story is so reasonable, given the fact that a dinosaur came to life, but this stuff about pushing the cloud away with his nose doesn't quite come off."

Mr. Hoff's books are so successful because they clearly link words and pictures, with playful images grounded in a concrete reality. "Danny and the Dinosaur" originated when one of the Hoffs' daughters was stricken with a disability, and he drew pictures to divert her during physical therapy.

"Humor, for some reason, is basically sad," Mr. Hoff once wrote in an autobiographical essay. "The best humor has to do with events that people can identify as having happened to them, or something that has been in the subconscious."

His wife, Dora, died in 1994, The Miami Herald reported. He is survived by a daughter, Bonnie Stillman, and two grandchildren by a second daughter, Susan, who died before him, the paper said.


Entertainment Insiders

SYD HOFF Died May 12, 2004

Prolific children’s book author, illustrator and cartoonist Syd Hoff died at age 91. Mr. Hoff’s books "Danny and the Dinosaur" and "Sammy the Seal" entertained millions of baby boomer toddlers, myself included. My late grandmother promised she would buy me a book of my choice if I learned to tie my shoes. I was four at the time! I chose Hoff’s "Danny and the Dinosaur." My love for the book has been passed on to my children and hopefully they will pass it on to theirs. Mr. Hoff’s funny book "Stanley and the Dinosaurs" was turned into a great 26-minute claymation short by John Clarke Matthews. The funny little film tells the tale of a caveman named Stanley who may be a little more evolved than his friends. The dinosaurs are funny and personable. Mr. Hoff was also a panelist on the TV game show "Draw to Win."



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