The work of Syd Hoff continues my articles on my artistic influences.
Children's books have played a big role in my life. Beginning with my mom reading stories to me when I was young, to learning to read, to going through my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, to my job now working with children, and continuing with the anticipation of my own child's birth in May, I have never lost my enthusiasm and excitement for a really good kid's book. They're fun to read, and the art is often top notch.
Syd Hoff made a career out of teaching kids how to read through the 60+ volumes in the HarperCollins "I Can Read" series for beginning readers beginning in the '50s. These books stand out in my mind as some of my favorites when I was young. Most likely because they featured talking animals, or cavemen, or dinosaurs, or other characters I found of interest (and still do.)
Hoff's art is so amazing in its simplicity. With only a few lines he is able to convey so much. I also enjoy how fluid his art is, with almost no harsh or jagged lines. You can almost see his brush moving across the page. All of this works together to create a very clean, happy and energetic page. You can't help but smile when you read a book by Syd.
Hoff was also a cartoonist for The New Yorker, who published his work when he was only 18. Hoff worked in the single panel structure, and as you can see in the two panels I have posted below (which feature no captions here), his art can say so much even without words. As mentioned I do not have the captions to go along with these panels, but I highly recommend you visit Syd Hoff's site, which features these panels as well as many more. You can also learn quiet a bit more about the man who helped so many kids learn to read.