Syd Hoff’s I Can Read Books

A prolific commercial cartoonist with over 2,000 published cartoons in more than 200 publications, Syd Hoff also successfully channelled his brand of absurdist humour to his well-loved children’s books, which are distinct in the style of their illustrations (naturally), as well as the stories’ unique blend of reality and fantastical scenarios.

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For instance, a seal/bear wandering the streets without causing a commotion, a woman who keeps 25 pet mice and brings them out without anyone so much as blinking an eye, a friendly museum dinosaur who comes alive to be a boy’s playmate, and a boy who has an imaginary horse.

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And, in spite of the simplicity of the language used, many of his easy readers managed to touch on complex themes such as displacement, oppression, freedom, belonging and friendship β€” all while remaining remarkably uncynical. (Apparently, much of his inspiration came from his Jewish background.)

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Although he wrote around 150 children’s books, only a very small number are still in print β€” including our top picks which are pictured here: Sammy the Seal, Mrs. Brice’s Mice, the Danny and the Dinosaur series, Grizzwold and The Horse in Harry’s Room.

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