Sandra Boynton is a popular American cartoonist, children's author, songwriter, producer, and director. Since 1974, Boynton has written and illustrated over sixty children's books and seven general audience books, including five New York Times bestsellers. More than 70 million of her books have been sold, "mostly to friends and family," she says. She has also written (with Michael Ford) and produced six albums of renegade children's music. Three of her six albums have been certified Gold (over 500,000 copies sold) and Philadelphia Chickens, nominated for a Grammy, has been certified Platinum (over 1 million copies sold). Boynton has also directed twelve music videos of her songs, including the award-winning "One Shoe Blues" starring B.B. King, "Alligator Stroll" starring Josh Turner, and "Tyrannosaurus Funk" (animated) sung by Samuel L. Jackson. She lives in rural New England, and her studio is in a barn with perhaps the only hippopotamus weathervane in America.
It might sound strange to call a board book "long awaited," but for
those who have puzzled and perhaps even argued over the message of
the great Sandra Boynton's 1982 "But Not the Hippopotamus," the
arrival of a follow-up called BUT NOT THE ARMADILLO (Simon &
Schuster, 14 pp., $5.99; ages 0 to 4) is exciting news. In the
previous book, a solitary hippo politely refused to join other
animals in various activities - dancing, shopping, drinking juice.
Was she rejected and isolated, or just, you know, a bit of a loner?
And when, on the last page, she finally agreed to hang out with
everyone else, what to make of the armadillo who then appeared,
with the line "But not the armadillo"? Some found it off-putting -
a testament to the persistence of loneliness and alienation, a
"Bartleby" for toddlers. Others applauded the self-determination
exhibited by both the hippo and the armadillo.
I am here to tell you that Boynton has settled the question: The armadillo, "with his armadillo nose," really likes to wander around by himself, following that sausage-shaped schnoz "where it goes." He sniffs flowers, picks cranberries, stretches out languidly for a nap. He hears music from far away. A hippo (ahem) rushes busily by - "she wants to run and play." But, you guessed it, "not the armadillo." And that's O.K., we're helped to see: "He doesn't like to hurry." There's one more beat, a moment of parting grace that shows why Boynton is the absolute master of board books. "Please scratch his armadillo nose and tell him not to worry." To each creature his or her own. -- Sandra Boynton * The New York Times Book Review *