Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Sandra Boynton - April 3

Happy Birthday Sandra Boynton - April 3

In preparation for Sandra Boyton's birthday this week, I read through my post from last year's birthday celebration when we made sock puppets for her song and short film One Shoe Blues (look for the post below).  I ended the post by asking, "The question is where will she go next? More music? More film? Or something completely new?" This year's celebration brought something completely new for Boynton, the successful author, illustrator, music writer, greeting card designer, etc.  In November 2010, she published, Amazing Cows: Udder Absurdity for Children, a book that is great for "all ages up to a hundred and moo." In this book, Boynton brings her humor and animal illustrations to a slightly older audience than her beloved board books.  Now children who once loved listening and reading Boynton board books will be able to enjoy more of her zaniness as they advance in their reading.

My children and I really enjoyed Amazing Cows which is filled with cow knock-knock jokes, silly stories about cows, cow limericks, funny full-page spreads that feature cows, and even a comic book cow adventure.  Our favorite story was "Cow Story" in which 137 cows and a few chickens play Red Rover.  My children loved the names of the 137 cows (don't worry the list isn't as long as you would initially think because 80 of the cows are named Tino, which ends up being very interesting in the game Red Rover :) The book is listed as having a reading level focused for 4-8 year olds, yet some of the humor sailed right over the head of my 5 year old daughter.  (Yet, if you were to ask her she would probably tell you that she understood all the jokes!)  I was also left wondering if Boynton's "Amazing" Cows were long lost cousins of the "Remarkable" Cows from her song Cows on Philadelphia Chickens. All the cow silliness was enough to make us laugh out loud when we read the book before bedtime.

I was able to make a personal connection with Sandra's cow theme, as I have had many experiences with cows in my life.  My aunt and uncle own a dairy farm where I spent a lot of time growing up.  I can still remember rounding up the cows while riding along with my cousin as he drove the tractor, feeding baby calves from a bottle, watching a calf being born, and of course walking through manure.  But, the funniest memory of a cow involves my son.  Last year, we were on a preschool field at a pumpkin farm with his class.  There was a small petting farm with many calves.  My son, two at the time, was watching me give a bottle to a calf named Oreo.  The calf was very enthusiastic about the bottle and was slobbering frothy milk all over the place.  My son was very excited to see the cow close up and we soon learned that apparently the cow was happy to see him too.  My son got a bit too close, and the cow wanted to share his affection with a big, sloppy smooch!

Warning...Don't get too close to this Amazing Cow!
We once again used potato stamps for a craft this week.  We made cow t-shirts with black craft paint, and a potato cut in half . Before stamping, I did cut and shape the potato's edges to hope for more of a cow spot print.

We placed towels inside the shirt so the paint didn't soak through to the other side.
I think this was the first craft my youngest has participated in.
My son fashioned the spots to look like a smiley face.
Look at these Amazing Cows!
Sandra Boynton and her books have been enjoyed by all my children.  Her board books have been a part of each of their early reading experiences.  Our Boynton board book collection continues to grow and will always be cherished books in our house.

Check out this excellent video from CBS Morning Show on Sandra Boynton:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Below is the 2010 post from Sandra Boynton's Birthday Celebration:

I think I need to briefly change the name of my blog to

Sandra Boynton was enormously successful early in her career as a greeting card designer.  She designed thousands of cards for Recycled Paper Greeting Cards, which sold tens of millions of copies per year during the peak years in the 1980s.  Her most important card, designed in 1975 showcased illustrations of a hippo, a birdie, and two ewes (Happy Birthday to You!).  It has been estimated that this one card has sold around 10 million copies.

While succeeding at greeting cards she began using her talent for illustrating and rhyming to write and design children's books.  Her first children's book, Hippos Go Berserk, was published in 1977 while she was a student at Yale School of Drama.  Since then, she has published over 40 books for children and adults.  I first read a book by Sandra Boynton when my daughter was interested in board books, which is the format that many of her book are published.  On our bookshelf we had Blue Hat, Green Hat, Belly Button Book, Moo Baa La La La, A to Z, and Hey, Wake Up!  I have memories of reading all these books.  We loved the silly turkey in Blue Hat, Green Hat because he just couldn't get his clothes on right.  We still refer to belly buttons as Bee-bos because of the Belly Button Book.  Moo Baa La La La was the first book my son was able to read to me.  Lastly, that silly turkey shows up again by "tripping" for the letter T in the alphabet book, A to Z.  I remember using a Thanksgiving turkey puppet to act this part of the book over and over to the laughter of my daughter when she was one year old.

Boynton's talent for writing and her love of music led to the production of four albums (Blue Moo, Dog Train, Philadelphia Chickens, and Rhinoceros Tap) with her music partner and composer Michael Ford.  She writes all the words for the songs then, Michael sets the words to music.  Boynton has been successful getting stars like Davy Jones, Meryl Streep, Blues Traveler, B.B. King, and many others to sing her songs for the albums.  Her most successful album was Philadelphia Chickens, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2004 for Best Musical Album for Children.  These albums are packaged with an illustrated book, however, single copies of songs can be purchased online.

This week we listened to Blue Moo: Juke Box Hits from Way Back Never.  Boynton loved making this album as it allowed her to revisit her childhood and the music she raised her children to love.  She feels that 50's jukebox music is perfect for all children.  Our favorite songs off the album were Big Band Sound, Singing in the Shower, and Your Personal Penguin (Free Download).

Also, on Blue Moo is the track, One Shoe Blues, which is sung by B.B. King.  Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford took this song one step further by producing a short film that features B.B. King, the great song, and sock puppets.  My 2 year old son loved watching this 5 minutes video and the sock puppet auditions skit.  All these videos are available on YouTube, but are also sold on DVD with a book.

We were inspired by the One Shoe Blues video and decided to make our own sock puppets.  There was no problem finding socks that were lonely in the basement.  I raided our craft box and found buttons, pipe cleaners, googily eyes, yarn, sticky shapes, pom poms, and a glue gun.  I opted for the glue gun because craft glue never seems to work well when I use it.  The kids picked the buttons for their eyes and I glued them on.  Then, they decided how the rest of the puppet was going to be designed.  My son decided on pom pom ears and nose. My daughter chose a "sticky shapes" mouth and nose with pipe cleaner hair.  My daughter said, "This is just like One Shoe Blues!" After creating the puppets they went behind the big chair in our living room and sang their favorite songs using the puppets!

Sandra Boynton has found success with books, music, greeting cards, and film.  The consistent features of unique humor and animal illustrations have made her work recognizable by children and adults.  The question is where will she go next? More music? More film? or something completely new?


1. Sandra Boynton's Website
2. Sandra Boynton's Zazzle Store
3.  Making of One Shoes Blues - You Tube! (Hilarious)
4. Making of Blue Moo: Behind the Moosic - YouTube
5. Workman Publishing Page - Couple of Free Song Downloads, other song clips
6. Sandra Boynton Short Film - Be Like a Duck - YouTube
7. Sandra Boynton Interview - Barnes and Noble, Piedmont Parent, The New Sun


  1. Great post! Sandra Boynton is becoming one of our favorites. I love her silliness and her animal illustrations are just awesome. I laugh every time I look at them. Her bedtime books are a hit right now for us.

  2. This week I used Sandra Boynton's board books when teaching main idea to my special education students. We used the short, fun, easily readable board books to talk about figuring out what the books were mainly about. This was a great introduction to main idea, a concept that my students often struggle with. They loved reading the Belly Button Book and other books to discuss main idea.
    We also read One Shoe Blues, and talked about the main idea of that story. We watched the DVD that comes with the book too, they loved it! We finished by making our own sock puppets, that they all named. Sarafina Rose, Digger and Harold were fantastic sock puppets!


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