Chances are very good that writer and illustrator Sandra Boynton’s whimsical, wide-eyed critters have wandered into your life at some point. Maybe it was a funny greeting card, such as her famous “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes” or her best-selling ode to chocolate, “Chocolate: The Consuming Passion.” And if you’ve been anywhere around a toddler in the past 30 years, a stack of her colorful, beloved board books have probably been nearby.
“Barnyard Dance!,” “Moo, Baa, La La La!” and “But Not the Hippopotamus,” are just some of the books in her large catalog of work that includes writing and producing music as well as directing videos. Millions of kids have delighted — and probably gnawed on — her board books while dancing to her songs.
Her latest book, “Dinosnores,” was released earlier this week, along with new Spanish language editions of “Barnyard Dance! / ¡Danza del Corral!," “Snuggle Puppy! / Cachorro Cariñoso" and "The Belly Button Book! / ¡El Libro del Ombligo!"
On Saturday, Boynton will be in Manhattan to sign books during a special “Pajama Party” event at Camp’s Flatiron store, which will also feature a musical performance by her son, Keith Boynton, and daughter, Darcy Boynton.
We recently spoke with the author about her new book, translating her work into Spanish and how it’s never too early to start reading to children.
What was your inspiration for “Dinosnores?”
Actually, it was from a pattern I did almost 20 years ago that one of my kids especially loved. I was looking for something else and I stumbled on a pillowcase and I remembered that [my son] Devin used to love this pattern and I thought, "this would make a great book." So, oddly enough, the book is inspired by a sheet pattern that I did a long time ago.
Do you have different themes in mind, such as helping kids learn sounds, recognize letters, settle down to sleep etc. when you are writing?
I think what’s interesting is, I did two "going to bed books" at the same time. [“Silly Lullaby” was released late in August.] I think it was inspired by the fact I have a one-year-old granddaughter. You’re very much immersed in the importance of bedtime. I think it was more subliminal or subconscious than it was deliberate.
Are you happy to see more of your books translated into Spanish?
Yes, but actually I translated the books. I find it’s difficult to translate my books because they reside very much in English, meaning they are in rhyme and have a certain cadence which is a very English language cadence, so it’s difficult to find the equivalent. It’s more complex than you would think. I think they are better in my hands and then be checked by native Spanish speakers. It was fun working with two people [Lourdes Cuellar and John McMullan] — we went back and forth just debating certain aspects.
What is the feedback like from parents and kids at store events? Is it inspiring, overwhelming?
All of those things! I don’t do it often. I roped in my own kids, who are wonderful performers, and they will be doing a short musical performance. People are so nice, so I am looking forward to it, but it can be a little overwhelming — just how do you give everyone your attention?
What’s your advice for parents and kids as they head back to school this week?
I think good advice for most situations is to relax and have fun. I think all of us tend to over-prepare in a way. Just be curious and enjoy the experience.
Why is it important to read to children, even when they are infants?
Even before they’re born! Seriously, a child hears his or her mother’s voice and the whole rhythm and cadence of it can be very soothing — for the mom too. It’s already a bonding experience. It’s a wonderful time of sanctuary to read for yourself as well as for the child, to settle in and just do nothing else.
If you go: Join Sandra Boynton for a "Wild Pajama Party!" at Camp on Saturday, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 110 Fifth Ave., $15 adults, children FREE, details at camp.com.