Syd Hoff; Cartoonist, Children's Author
Sunday, May 16, 2004; Page C12
Syd Hoff, 91, a former cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine who is known to several generations as the author of the children's books "Sammy the Seal" and "Danny and the Dinosaur," died of pneumonia May 12 at a hospital in Miami Beach, Fla.
Mr. Hoff, a New York native, wrote and illustrated the inaugural volume of the "Danny and the Dinosaur" trilogy in 1958. The book, about a dinosaur who comes to life, was part of the I Can Read series of books aimed at beginning readers.
Anne Hoppe, executive editor of the HarperCollins children's books division, said Mr. Hoff was one of the first creators of books for beginning readers.
"Syd was so good at humor for young readers and for creating big-hearted characters," Hoppe said.
"There is so much competition [in entertainment], but children are still very excited to be able to read. That magic hasn't gone away."
At 16, Mr. Hoff enrolled in the National Academy of Design in New York City hoping to become a fine artist. "But a natural comic touch in my work caused my harried instructors to advise me to try something else," he once said.
He contributed 571 cartoons to the New Yorker, from 1931 to 1975.
Mr. Hoff also had two syndicated comic strips. "Tuffy," about a little girl, was launched in 1939 and ran 10 years. "Laugh It Off" began in 1958 and ran for 20 years.
In the 1950s, he also starred in a brief series of television shows, "Tales of Hoff," in which he told a story and drew cartoons.
His wife, Dora, died in 1994.
Survivors include a daughter and two grandchildren.
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