Danny and the Dinosaur


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Danny and the Dinosaur

  1. 1. DANNY and the DINOSAU R Story and Pictures by SYD HOFF IMAGE: ebay/groversoverstock
  2. 2. 10 million copies in print, 12 languages 1st Edition (1958) I Can Read Ed. (1983) **Several other printings and editions, plus two sequels: Spanish Ed. (1992) “New” Ed. (1994) 50th Annv. Ed. (2008)
  3. 3. Bibliographic Description Bibliographic Data • • First published in 1958 by Harper & Brothers Hardcover (cloth) Extent • • • 64 pages with color illustrations No dedication or introduction 23 cm Illustrations/Appearance • • • • Watercolor/ink illustrations on all pages, by the author Large text The book is very readable for children, with large pictures taking up more than half of each page, and black standard serif text on a white background at lower half of each page Cloth spine binding with author name and title Cover Image Sample Page/Illustration
  4. 4. Bibliographic Description Title page • Transcription: Danny and the Dinosaur - Story and Pictures - by Syd Hoff • Verso transcription: Archival Materials • • No record of original manuscript Hoff’s papers and illustrations are split among three collections: • de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at University of Southern Mississippi http://www.lib.usm.edu/legacy/degrum/public_html/html/researc h/findaids/DG0465f.html • Sydney Hoff Collection, University of Minnesota http://special.lib.umn.edu/findaid/xml/CLRC-1388.xml#file10 • Syd Hoff Cartoons, Syracuse University Library http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/h/hoff_s.htm#d0e78
  5. 5. Bibliographic Description Jacket Copy: “It is a wonderful moment when a child first finds a book he can read, enjoying both words and pictures, and not relying on an adult to decipher the printed words.” Back Cover Copy:
  6. 6. Publication History • • • • • • • • Some 50 editions Still in print More than 10 million copies sold Adaptations: -Short animated film (1991) -Educational computer game (1997) Translated into a dozen languages Part of the “I Can Read” series Two sequels: -Happy Birthday, Danny and the Dinosaur -Danny and the Dinosaur Go to Camp Has remained very popular over the decades and has never been out of print
  7. 7. Biography of Syd Hoff (HarperCollins author photo) Syd Hoff was born Sydney Hoffberg,1 on September 4, 1912 in the Bronx and attended Morris High School until age 16. 2 In high school, he had a formative experience during an assembly featuring Milt Gross, a notable cartoonist of the time. At the assembly, Hoff was selected to animate a talk given by another student and drew so well that Gross proclaimed, “Kid, someday you’ll be a great cartoonist!” 3 After dropping out of high school and with the support of his older brother, Danny, the namesake of his most famous book, Hoff began taking art classes in New York, including at the National Academy of Design. He quickly found success as a cartoonist, selling his first work to the New Yorker at age 18.4 He enjoyed a lifelong relationship with the magazine, selling more than 500 cartoons to it over the decades. In 1937, he married Dora Berman, whom he had met as a teenager.5 In 1939, he began a 10-year publication run of his syndicated newspaper comic strip, Tuffy. A year later he published his first children’s book, Muscles and Brains. However, he did not break through as an author until 1958’s Danny and the Dinosaur, which to date has sold more than 10 million copies. The book was inspired by drawings that Hoff created as a way to entertain his daughter, Susan, who was undergoing rehabilitation for a chronic hip problem. Critics have credited this work as an early forerunner of the dinosaur craze that swept through American literature and film in later decades. 5 Hoff himself joked that Steven Spielberg ought to pay Hoff royalties for helping inspire the blockbuster film Jurassic Park. He, his wife and two daughters moved to Miami Beach, Florida in 1958, in part to aid in Susan’s recovery. From 1958 through 1977, Hoff published another newspaper comic, Laugh It Off. He would go on to write and illustrate more than 60 children’s books, including Sammy the Seal, Irving and Me, and two sequels to Danny. He also continued to submit editorial cartoons to a variety of magazines, illustrated other authors’ books, created artwork for several national advertising campaigns, wrote fiction and nonfiction books for adults, and hosted a television show on CBS focusing on his drawing and storytelling. 6 A common theme of much of Hoff’s editorial work was an appreciation for working-class people and neighborhoods. In fact, Hoff, under the pen name A. Redfield, published numerous cartoons in the leftist magazines Daily Worker and New Masses, which often were critical of upper classes. As Redfield, he also compiled a book of cartoons from The Daily Worker, titled The Ruling Clawss.7 Hoff, while well-known for his cheerful children’s books and gag-filled cartoons, often found inspiration in sadness. "Humor, for some reason, is basically sad…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,” the New York Times credited him as writing.8 In later years, he enjoyed a comfortable life as a well-known author who toured around the world discussing his writing and art, but was touched by sadness with the deaths of several family members, including his wife, his beloved brother Danny, and Susan, the daughter who helped him conceive his most famous work, who died at age 45 in 1986. Hoff died May 12, 2004 in Miami Beach at the age of 91. In honor of Hoff’s centennial, the American Library Association designated his home in Miami as a Literary Landmark. 9
  8. 8. Works Cited/Bibliography 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. http://www.sacreddoodles.com/SydHoff/pages/timeline.htmlht http://www.sacreddoodles.com/SydHoff/pages/biography.html http://www.sacreddoodles.com/pages/sydhoff.htm http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2005-Fo-La/HoffSyd.html#ixzz2OKSj7ZEz http://www.sacreddoodles.com/SydHoff/pages/about.html "Hoff, Syd." Third Book Of Junior Authors (1972): Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Web. 22 Mar. 2013. http://aredfield.com/ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/17/arts/syd-hoff-91-who-illustrated-a-boy-sride-on-a-dinosaur.html http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/syd-hoff-home-designatedliterary-landmark-united-libraries
  9. 9. Further Reading • • sydhoff.org – Official website maintained by Hoff’s niece, Carol Carol Edmonston Articles and tributes for Hoff’s centennial – – – • Writings on Hoff’s work as A. Redfield – – – • http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/07/3222169/group-preserves-miami-beach-home.html http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/11/3228202/miami-beach-home-of-childrens.html http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/103850/syd-hoffs-cartoon-life?all=1 http://www.philnel.com/2011/02/02/hoff_teeth/ http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/cartoonists/2012/09/the-ruling-clawss.html Mickenberg, Julia L.Nel, Philip,eds. Tales For Little Rebels: A Collection Of Radical Children's Literature. New York : New York University Press, 2008. Print. Obituaries – – – – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/17/arts/syd-hoff-91-who-illustrated-a-boy-s-rideon-a-dinosaur.html Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2004/may/17/local/me-hoff17 The Guardian (UK) http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2004/jul/09/guardianobituaries The Independent (UK) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/syd-hoff-6169296.html
  10. 10. Contemporaneous Reception Danny and the Dinosaur was well-received upon its publication in 1958 and sold well, or as Hoff later wrote, “the floodgates were open.”1 The New York Times cited the book among its Outstanding Children's Books of 1958.2 Often praised for its simplistic, friendly drawings and relatable, imaginative plot, the book has remains in print more than 50 years later, having sold more than 10 million copies. As Kirkus Reviews noted, “Syd Hoff's cartoon illustrations and his abbreviated text will make this dinosaur an especially favored pet with younger readers.”3 As Hoff trained and began his career as a cartoonist, it is not surprising that this aspect of his work is what drew in many of his young readers. Slotted into the “I Can Read” series by its publisher, HarperCollins, the book was published as a stepping stone book for young people just advanced enough to being reading books on their own. The book is a picture book, with large, colorful illustrations on each page. Still, Hoff’s trademark humor peeks into the story, giving it an indelible appeal. As noted by critic Anastasia Suen, “Hoff’s humor comes through by making the events funny and appealing…Hoff’s illustrations are classic Hoff: simple cartoons with a minimum of background and details.”4 The book’s light 64 pages do not end in a triumph for Danny, the boy who brought to life a dinosaur, as he and his prehistoric playmate part ways at the end of the story. Still the book leaves the reader with a sense of jubilance and wonder about childhood adventure and imagination, as Danny notes to himself, “But we did have a wonderful day.” It is the combination of image and imagination that ultimately made this book satisfying for its readers, with Language Arts saying of the book, "It is a great pleasure to see what miracles can be wrought with simple words, imagination, and understanding of children.”5
  11. 11. Critical Evaluation Danny and the Dinosaur was an immediate hit with children’s literature critics and with young readers alike. Its popularity has held strongly through the years, having sold more than 10 million copies and remaining in print through different editions throughout the decades. It also saw a resurgence of interest at two different recent points, in 2008 when a heralded 50 th anniversary edition of the book was released, and in 2012, when author Syd Hoff would have celebrated his 100th birthday, an occasion for which numerous celebrations, library exhibits and commemorations of his work were held. In reviews of the original work and of subsequent editions, critics often find value and enjoyment in the book’s simple plot, which features such relatable yet intensely pleasurable activities as visiting a museum, playing hide and seek, and enjoying ice cream, with the soaring imaginative addition of a dinosaur who has come to life to join in the fun. Some later critics noted that Hoff may have inspired the large interest in dinosaurs in both children’s and popular culture in later decades of the 20th century. Still, more readers, I believe, are drawn into the text by the author’s bright, simplistic and ultimately engaging illustrations. The cover page for the original and almost all subsequent editions features a large, smiling dinosaur glancing toward the reader with friendly eyes as a young, blond boy hangs off his neck and waves toward us invitingly. Similar illustrations are shown throughout the story, as the characters enjoy walking through city streets, visiting a zoo, watching a baseball game, partaking in a game of hide and seek, and interacting with neighborhood children. Each of these drawings is effective in placing the reader inside the action of the story, relating motion and sentiment through movement lines and characters’ expressions. In addition, Hoff places touchstones familiar to children in many of the drawings—cars, newspapers, bridges, stoplights, police officers, etc.—clearly placing the fantastic events of the plot in a context understandable to children. From a moralistic critical perspective, the book holds up well. Though few critics have found strong didactic themes to the story, a few plot points tend toward teaching. The boy and the dinosaur are shown obeying traffic signals, offering to transport those waiting to cross the street and leaving the zoo at the request of the zookeeper so that the other animals will not be forgotten by other visitors. Also, the children of the neighborhood play well together, and even band together to pretend they cannot find the mammoth creature during a game of hide and seek when he has sought shade behind a sorely inadequate light pole. Some modern critics have taken issue with Hoff’s portrayal of “Indians” and “Eskimos” that Danny sees before encountering the dinosaur at the museum. In Hoff’s simple rendering, this text is accompanied by what appear to be full-sized bodies of an stereotypical Native American male and Inuit male standing on podiums for passersby to see. Such imagery now often is considered to be insensitive to those populations. Still, the text and pictures have remained unchanged throughout newer editions. Despite this instance, the magic of Hoff’s work is the clear interplay between text and image. The simple text on each page is mirrored by the cartoonish drawing that accompanies it. When the text says the characters ate ice cream, the reader sees them eating ice cream, from a truck on whose side is written “Ice Cream.” When the text says the two watched a ball game, we see them, towering above the walls of the stadium, enjoying the ball game. When during the game of hide and seek, the text says the dinosaur hid behind a house, we see him, vainly trying to conceal his massive frame behind what is clearly a home typical of the neighborhood. While such mirroring of text and image would be common for early reader books such as this, it is the singular quality of Hoff’s illustrations that makes the book irresistible. The original medium Hoff used to create the artwork— bright watercolors with distinct black ink outlines, renders the images at once accessible and fantastic for the young reader. It is this series of interplays with which succeeds to the fullest—between text and image, between the everyday and the fantastic, between the colorful and the black-and-white, between the day of play and the evening’s return to normalcy. They combine to leave us with a sense of both joy and longing for fulfillment that only imagination can bring.
  12. 12. Bibliography/Works Cited 1. http://www.sacreddoodles.com/SydHoff/pages/about.html 2. Buell, Ellen Lewis. "A Few New Books for All the New Readers.” New York Times. October 5, 1958. 3. "DANNY AND THE DINOSAUR." Kirkus Reviews. Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1958. AccWeb. 20 Mar. 2013. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/syd-hoff-3/dannyand-the-dinosaur/ 4. Suen, Anastasia. "15 Classic Easy Readers." Book Links 15.6 (2006): 56. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson). Web. 23 Mar. 2013. 5. http://www.harpercollins.com/browseinside/index.aspx?isbn13=9780064440028 6. http://www.beachedmiami.com/2012/07/16/finding-home-syd-hoff/