Syd Hoff (1912-2004)
Syd Hoff is dead. Syd was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. His books were simple to read, those early primer readers with short sentences in big type and not too many words that broached two syllables. But the imagination, laughter and improbability packed into those books made those simple words magical. I was introduced to Mr. Hoff by way of Danny the Dinosaur. My teachers would let me take home as many of the I Can Read series of books home with me; I'd read one every night which certainly impressed the teachers. I remember trying to explain to them that reading Hoff's books weren't really like reading at all, they were like playing with words and pictures. I don't think they understood. Hoff also wrote a slew of joke books filled with the kind of humor that only a child or an adult who never forgot how to be a child will laugh at. His book Animal Jokes (I'm nearly positive it was that one) was my first introduction to the wacky world of puns. In addition to writing and illustrating wonderful children's books, Syd Hoff was a regular contributor of cartoons to The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and many other magazines. He also had two comic strips - Tuffy, which appeared in hundreds of papers daily and the one panel strip Laugh it Off, which was syndicated by King Features. Rest well, Mr. Hoff. And thanks for all those hours of enjoyment.