As someone who still remembers all the words to Hippos Go Berserk! at age 28, spending the day with Sandra Boynton was akin to having a kitchen full of freshly baked cupcakes at my disposal. In a word: Amazing!
At 10am last Saturday I arrived at Books of Wonder, a nearly unrivaled children’s bookstore in New York to find my Workman colleagues already hard at work. The Main Event would take place from 12-2pm, and would be kicked off with live performances of songs from Boynton musical classics Philadelphia Chickens and Blue Moo. At 10 the stage was still being assembled, the lighting tweaked and the mics sound-checked. My cohorts and I stuffed goody bags for the kids while the marvelous Books of Wonder staff ran around making sure they were ready for the impending crowd.
By 11:30 a few curious onlookers had started to make their way to the back of the store to claim a prime spot near the stage. The stacks of Boynton titles started to slowly disappear, the plush chickens, cows, ducks, and aardvarks were tucked one by one under an arm or into stroller for purchase, and the craft table where I was stationed drew the attention of young people barely tall enough to see over the top. We were all surrounded by a gallery of Boynton art, including an entire wall of prints from Amazing Cows!, portraits of some very serious farm animals, and rather suspect assembly of eavesdropping chickens.
We were welcomed at noon by Peter, our host and Books of Wonder’s proprietor, and by Sandra, who was lovely and welcoming. They introduced the musical acts, which began with a group of slick dudes signing “Be Like a Duck”, a fan fave from Philadelphia Chickens. They were followed by Sandy’s daughter Caitlin performing her perennial hit “Faraway Cookie”, another tune from the Philly Chickens album. The lovely Sparklets closed the set to an enthusiastic crowd with their hit “Blue Moo” from the book and album of the same name.
Sandy then took her place at the signing table and awaited the hoards of fans young and old. We manned the craft station for the duration of the event, handing out paper templates for “udderflys” (yup, cows with butterfly wings) and “cowlidescopes”, all the while humming “Blue Moo” and dancing with varying degrees of talent.
By 2:30 Sandy had met with each and every audience member and had signed loads of Amazing Cows! for some very happy readers. We sent the last of the udderflys sailing home, as families went off to shop for holiday gifts and Christmas trees. It was a lighthearted day filled with great music, good company, and a lot of cows. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the holiday season. Many thanks to Sandra Boynton and her entourage for making such a spectacular appearance!
If you haven’t bought your copy of Amazing Cows! yet, do so without delay. I guarantee that when your kids turn 28, they will still remember every word.