PARENTING
02/03/2017 12:35 pm ET

Sandra Boynton's Facebook Illustrations Are What We Need Right Now

The beloved children's book author is illustrating the resistance with hippos.

Children’s book author and illustrator Sandra Boynton is the creator of more than 50 beloved books for kids, including “Moo, Baa, La! La! La!,” “But Not The Hippopotamus” and “The Going To Bed Book.”

Her style is silly and a little absurd, and her books feature lots of stylized hippos, cows and other animals. 

Boynton also posts regular illustrations on her Facebook page  for her followers, often coinciding with holidays and other notable dates, like Groundhog Day, National Pie Day and even Squirrel Appreciation Day. But lately, some of her work has started to seem extra relevant, as the political climate becomes increasingly concerning for many. 

On January 22nd, Boynton posted a cartoon showing a group of mice tilting a teeter-totter with an elephant on the other side, with the caption “Difficult things can be accomplished given enough enthusiasm, joy, and purpose.” It was the day after the Women’s March on Washington, and many commenters noted the parallels between the illustration and how they’d felt marching the day before.

But not everyone was happy. A few protested the “politicization” of Boynton’s work, like the commenter who wrote, “The one thing i never thought i would see is ms. boynton’s cartoons being politicized. the last bastion of humor in a scary world is dead.”

And on January 28th, Boynton posted an illustration of the Earth along with the words “Handle With Care.” Under a political regime that questions the validity and importance of climate change, and posted just a few days after EPA scientists were delivered a gag order, some of her followers interpreted this as a political statement. 

Some agreed with the presumed political message, commenting things like “This needs to go straight to D.C.” and mentioning President Donald Trump. 

Others spoke out against the drawing, with comments like, “Please don’t get political. I have been reading your books to my kids and grandkids for decades. Don’t ruin it.”

But Boynton told The Huffington Post she isn’t making a change into more political work. 

“I think there’s a definite through-line in my nearly 3,217 years of work, so my recent Facebook postings are not essentially different than what I’ve done all along. In fact, many of these postings use drawings from long ago, some as far back as the 70s. Their recent timing is not haphazard, of course, but I’m pretty surprised by the wildfire of response ― mostly positive and grateful, and some corrosive and mean,” she said.

Boynton says also of the recent interpretation of her work, “I’m puzzled by the idea that I’m suddenly ‘political.’ Ethics are not political. They’re ethics. And in these unsettled and unsettling times, silence is surely just as ‘political’ as non-silence. My work is my work—wry, upbeat, quirky. And it’s uncontroversial, except if you’re adamantly opposed to kindness and/or hippos.” 

Either way, her work, with its themes of positivity, coming together to achieve great things and kindness are providing solace to many, like the commenter who wrote: “Sandra, you have no idea how much this helped today...I look at your work and it cheers me and makes me feel better. THANK YOU.”

When asked what overall message she hopes to send with her art and her social media presence, Boynton responds in her trademark quirky fashion: “Have fun. Love each other’s company. Think. Find joy. Find stillness. Sing, dance. Pout if you want to. Don’t share your chocolate unless you feel you absolutely must.”

Below, some more of the inspiring illustrations Boynton has shared on Facebook since Election Day.

HuffPost

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