• Happy birthday Nancy Winslow Parker (The Jacket I Wear in the Snow), Joyce Hansen (I Thought My Soul Would Rise, Which Way Freedom?), and Susan Jeschke (Perfect the Pig).
  • Poet Phillis Wheatley is freed from slavery on this day in 1775. Read Phillis’s Big Test by Catherine Clinton and Sean Qualls.
  • The United States buys Alaska from Russia in 1867, at the cost of a mere $7.2 million. It’s a legal holiday in Alaska, Alaska Day, to commemorate the transfer of the territory. Read The Call of the Wild by Jack London and Diamond Willow by Helen Frost.
  • In 1898 Puerto Rico becomes a United States territory. Read The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe and Enrique O. Sanchez.
  • It’s the beginning of National Freedom of Speech Week (October 18–24). Read First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America by Charles C. Haynes, Sam Chaltain, and Susan M. Glisson.
  • It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day—indulge in a celebration!

October is International Dinosaur Month. Except for cats and dogs, few creatures seem as appealing to children as dinosaurs. In fact, to have a dinosaur as a pet must be one of the great childhood fantasies, an idea explored by Oliver Butterworth in The Enormous Egg.

Well our dinosaur of the day isn’t exactly a pet. He lives in the museum. But when young Danny stands in front of this large creature and says he’d like to play with a dinosaur, the dinosaur responds: “And I think it would be nice to play with you.” In Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur, the beginning of an I Can Read picture book series, Danny gets the thrill of a lifetime when he climbs on board the dinosaur’s neck and heads out into the world.

Born in 1912, Syd Hoff began his career as a cartoonist. A high school drop out, at sixteen he attended the National Academy of Design in New York. At eighteen he actually sold his first cartoon to the New Yorker and became a frequent contributor to this magazine and others. He created two syndicated comic strips, “Tuffy” and “Laugh It Off.” But in the mid-fifties Hoff struggled to keep his sick daughter from focusing on her medical treatments. He began to make some drawings and tell her stories. These sagas turned into Danny and the Dinosaur, published in 1958.

This book works brilliantly as a way to chase the blues away for all children. Walking outside with a dinosaur proves quite a challenge for Danny. His friend gets caught in clotheslines. Danny needs to watch out for the dinosaur’s tail. But a companion of this size, it turns out, can be quite useful in the city: serving as a bridge over traffic, carrying passengers, and providing water transport. Admittedly, he does have trouble playing hide-and-seek. Hoff always maintained that the best humor springs from the familiar. Danny and the Dinosaur can make children laugh from the first page to the last through familiar settings transformed by an uncommon creature.

Danny and the Dinosaur has been enticing children ages two through eight into reading for more than forty years. There’s no moral or message—just humor and fun and excitement. Once you read the book you want to read another—or read it again and again. Syd Hoff is one of those comic geniuses who never received enough accolades for his work during his working career. Except, of course, from children. They know that anyone who can write a book like Danny and the Dinosaur has to be a friend of theirs!

Here’s a page from Danny and the Dinosaur:

Originally posted October 18, 2011. Updated for 2012.

Tags: Dinosaurs, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Danny and the Dinosaur


  1. McCourt says:

    Late in checking in today, but so glad I did. This is another book I recently dug through the shelves to share with my youngest and it was as fun as I always remember. Syd Hoff’s illustrations seem so friendly to me – just right I think – and so approachable for an early reader.

  2. Nick Bruel says:

    I did not know about Mr. Hoff’s syndicated strips. This marks him as one of the rare few who both published children’s books AND a comic strip in the newspaper. Dr. Seuss, Patrick McDonell, Jack Kent (my hero), Crockett Johnson… Any others? I guess we could include Stan Mack and Mark Allen Stamaty, although their newspaper work was weekly. Come to think of it, so was Seuss. Anyway… Anyone else?

Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.