May 16, 2004 by

Syd Hoff


Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

Syd Hoff, a prolific children’s author and cartoonist, died on May 12 of pneumonia. He was 91.
Hoff was only 16 years old when he began studying at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Although he was a talented painter, many of Hoff’s instructors encouraged him to use his humor and artistic abilities in another venue. Two years later, he sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker, and decided to become a professional cartoonist. From 1931 to 1975, the magazine published 571 of his drawings.
Hoff drew the daily comic strip, “Tuffy,” which appeared for a decade in more than 800 newspapers worldwide, and the long-running syndicated “Laugh It Off” cartoon for 18 years. He freelanced for Esquire, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, and shared his artistic inspirations on the 1950s TV show, “Tales of Hoff.”
During his seven-decade career, Hoff wrote and illustrated 200 children’s books, including “Danny and the Dinosaur,” the story of a dinosaur who comes to life to share adventures with a boy. Part of the “I Can Read” series for young readers, this story became a children’s classic. Hoff also penned the “Sammy the Seal” series and illustrated dozens of books for authors like Louise Armstrong, Joan Lowery Nixon and Alvin Schwartz.

15 Responses to Syd Hoff

  1. J. S.

    I have very fond memories of reading Mr. Hoff’s books. I own 6 of them and now my daughter loves “Danny the Dinasour”.

  2. Alisha

    I have always loved Mr. Hoff’s two books,”Captain Cat” and “Danny and the Dinosaur”. My daughter will definitly read and love them.

  3. A. Goertzen

    Syd Hoff visited our school in 1986. What a thrill that was! We’ll always have lots of his books in our library…they’re of ten the ones our beginning readers can read all by themselves. I have a kpciture of myself with Syd when he was here…it’s a read treasure for me. aI’ve worked here for 30+ years as the library assistant and his visit is still at the top of my list of important moments. What a guy!

  4. Vincent Lara

    How very fondly I remember Syd Hoff and his books. I am 42 years old and in the first grade my favorite books were “Danny And The Dinosaur” and “Julius”
    Thank you Mr. Hoff for the memories!

  5. L. Nixon

    I remember Mr. Hoff’s books from my childhood and I now read them to my students. I also scavenge old book sales and garage sales to find all his titles for our author study on him!

  6. A. Matthews

    “Sammy the Seal” was the first book that I ever read. I read that book over and over and over again. It drove my family insane. Now at 30, I can still remember the first few lines of that book. Thanks Mr. Hoff for the Sweet nostalgia.

  7. p selig

    I am so sorry to hear of Syd Hoff’s passing. He was just the best author-illustrator ever!! I raised my 3 children on all of Syd Hoff’s books.One book in particular,” A CHANUKAH FABLE FOR CHRISTMAS” left the most impact on all of us. Being a minority in our community, my family needed a story that would help us get through the holidays and understand it all and be understood by children. “A CHANUKAH FABLE FOR CHRISTMAS” was absolutely perfect. I would bring it into class each holiday to read to the children and they loved it. And I must confess, I loved reading such a delightful story to them.
    I am only sorry Syd Hoff is not here to read the tributes. And I am sorry it has taken me so long to say THANKS FOR THE WONDERFUL STORIES.

  8. sean

    I loved “Danny And The Dinosaur”…He visited my grade school in 1983 or 84….He seemed a happy man…He even signed my copy….It was years ago but a good memory.

  9. Chad

    Mr Hoff came to my elementary school in Garland Texas in approximately 1978 or 77. I was in first grade at the time. Mr Hoff was at the time the writer of a couple of my favorite books. A couple of days before he visited I got the chicken pox and missed meeting him. I was extremely disappointed at the time. Now my two year olds favorite book is by Syd Hoff. I had just finished reading it when I decided to see if he was still alive by any chance and still writing…I am really disappointed now that I missed my chance to meet him. But I do enjoy reading his books to my kids. Thanks for the fond memories Syd both past and present!

  10. Regina Birnbaum

    My father, Julius, grew up with Syd Hoff in the Bronx, and my father knew Syd’s family and future wife (I believe her nickname was “Dutch”) quite well back then. They lost track of each other until the early 1990’s when my dad tracked him down through Syd’s publisher & they began corresponding. When Syd heard my dad had grandchildren, he sent many copies of his books to him & the kids would do book reports on Syd’s books for school. He also sent us a tape cassete called “The Trumpet Club-Authors on Tape” where he talks about himself and his career. We used to joke that the book “Julius” (the gorilla) was named after my dad. After my dad’s passing, I wrote to let Syd know & received a beautiful condolence letter. I just found out about Syd’s passing on the internet & want to extend belated condolences to his family. Syd’s letters (always signed “Hoff”) brought my dad much pleasure. My dad’s great-grandchildren have now inherited Syd’s books & proudly say that their great-grandfather & Syd Hoff were pals.

  11. Steven

    This is so sad. I just bought a copy of Mr. Hoff’s book, “It’s Fun To Learn Cartooning” published way back in 1952. I found it in a library sale. I was looking for Mr. Hoff’s address to ask him if he would sign it with a sentiment for my 9 yo niece as I wanted to give it to her for a gift. She loves to draw.
    Now that is not an option. But I may give it to her anyway and some of his children’s books as well as they all look charming.
    Writer/illustrators like Mr. Hoff are in short supply and he will be missed.

  12. Bethany

    My son, now 7, has grown up with Syd Hoff books, as I did. When he was a baby, as I was preparing to read him his story every night, I would read the title of the book to him, and, no matter who the author was, my son would pipe up, “by Syd Hoff!”


    76 SAGAMORE ST REVERE, MA. 02151
    I remember Syd Hoff from an encountor with him ata Chinese restaurant in Maryland. He had just
    My son and I had just arrived to get Chinese food, to celebrate the pregnancy of my son’s uife.
    His wife had just announced this to us, (his new grandparent’s to be,)they had given us a grandbaby girl,a few years before and ourdaughter-law had just found out she was having a boy.
    Our first grandson had passed away a couple of years before he was 11 months old,and the thought of another grandson,(in his memory,) and the happinees we felt, we were just ecstatic to look forward to another grnadson’s birth.
    I overheard a conversation Mr. Hoff was having with another person at the table close to us while
    we were waiting for our food.
    He was taking about the above book, and that he
    had written it and was hand delivering a lot of them somewhere, I, approached him (which is not like me) went
    up to him told him about the upcoming birth, and that his name would be Danny, and could I buy one
    of his books, he jumped up from the chair, said
    “just a minute” and went to his car and handed me
    a brand new copy, I asked him to sign it.
    He said he was happy to oblige, and smiled at us,and wished us good luck and seemed very happy that he had obliged, that he could give us the joy
    of his book. He did not take any mney.
    I just thought he was so special to go out of
    his way, to get the book, and not object to me eaves- dropping, or interuppting his dinner.
    I am so sorry he is gone, my four grandchildren, including Daniel Chester, (Danny) our one and only grandchild left,a very special boy and extrememly well-read, probably, because he was read to so much as a child. He reads at every change he gets, and isa histry buff.
    Thank you Mr. Hoff,
    Daniels grandmother
    Elizabeth ( a loyal fan. )
    ps. I just was looking up Mr. Hoff online and was
    going to send him an e-mail of the experience and
    see if he remembered.

  14. Dina Weinstein

    I am trying to connect with those who knew or met Syd Hoff as I curate a 2012 centennial exhibition in Miami, where Hoff lived. Anyone know how I can find The Trumpet Club-Authors on Tape with Syd Hoff?
    Dina Weinstein –

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