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An Interview with Sandra Boynton

June 6, 2011

We’re fortunate enough to have so many wonderful and incredibly talented people in our network (families and sitters alike!) and today we’d love to share something very special. One of our marvelous sitters, Darcy Boynton (who happens to be a cousin of one of our Executive Directors, the lovely Dara Epstein), took time out to interview her talented mother, children’s book author, Sandra Boynton, exclusively for us at Smartsitting.

Both interviewee and interviewer are inspiring in their own right. Darcy is a current NYU student, a top notch Smartsitter in our network, and is running her very own camp this summer (www.shootingstarartscamp.com). Darcy and her sister, Caitlin, also happen to be a young entrepreneurial team in the jewelry business (check out www.missdarcydesigns.com – you won’t regret it). Sandra is a notable children’s book author (you may recognize her name from our holiday gift bags this past December!), designer, music producer and mother of four children (for a detailed and humorous read, check out her autobiography here: www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/boyntonography.html).

Smartsitter Darcy Boynton, the youngest of four, interviews her children’s-book-writer Mom, Sandra Boynton

Darcy: The very first question I want to ask you is this: Among your four children, aren’t I really your favorite?

Sandra: Of course.

Darcy: And the other three kids?

Sandra: Also my favorites.

Darcy: Well then, will you at least admit to a favorite book? What books do you remember most happily from when you were little?

Sandra: I always liked best the simple, wry, understated books with irrepressible characters and cartoon-like art. And I generally avoided those picture books that looked informative and over-earnest. Who wants to spend her precious childhood being improved? Sendak and Minarik’s Little Bearand No Fighting, No Biting were (and are) particular favorites, and Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby and Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Darcy: I love those books, too. And all of William Steig’s books—especially Sylvester and the Magic PebbleBrave Irene, andDominic.

Sandra: I agree! Steig is an absolute genius. Both his writing and drawings are deft and exquisite. His children’s books came after my own childhood. But even in my 50s childhood, Steig was very much present, with his greatSmall Fry cartoons from the New Yorker. My grandparents had all his collections, and I spent hours and hours with them. I think it was my earliest career training.

Darcy: So Steig and the artists you most admire: Have they been your most important teachers?

Sandra: It’s an interesting question. I guess I’d say yes, my important teachers have been the writers and artists I love, plus a few passionate and inspired schoolteachers (including my wonderful father, who was my 10th grade English teacher,) my mother, my husband, my friends, and my creative collaborators. And truly, most of all my children.

Darcy: Well of course! And what do you think in general people can learn from children?

Sandra: All the best things: spontaneity, curiosity, openness, enthusiasm, directness. And of course from our own children, we learn that we can somehow function on WAY too little sleep.

Darcy: Hmmm. I can’t help but notice that your youngest is, if she does say so herself, a fabulous self-sufficient 21-year-old, and yet you choose not to sleep anyway, you work for untold hours in your studio or at the recording studio with Mike Ford.

Sandra: Er…maybe.

Darcy: Lately, you’ve been spending most waking minutes on creating digital interactive apps of your books for the iPad and beyond. What’s that been like?

Sandy: Exciting. Tiring. Fun. Challenging. Intriguing. It’s not a coincidence that I’m also designing coffee bags for Winchell Mountain. They pay me in all the coffee I can drink. Bad deal for them.

Darcy: Do you have a favorite of your own books?

Sandy: It changes. I guess my book/CD Blue Moo is my overall favorite. So so so much fun, start to finish. And I ended up with a diner in my studio, from all the eBay 50s stuff I accumulated researching the look of the jukebox era.

Darcy: My last question is from one of your other favorite children. Caty wants to know when you’re going to write and direct your Broadway musical.

Sandra: Just as soon as I finish the laundry.

Darcy: Oh dear. We were both hoping much sooner.

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