I really adore Sandra Boynton’s work. Her whimsical, quirky and bright illustrations and delightfully charming text has many memories of reading to children or just experiencing it with the eyes of a child well into my adulthood. When I saw that she had a new book coming out I was overjoyed! But perhaps I was expecting too much. Perhaps I just had too high hopes for it, but when I read But Not the Armadillo it did not live up to expectations. Sadly, it just fell a bit flat for me.
All the usual elements of her work are there: the whimsy, the quirky, the brightness of the illustrations. But spending the day with armadillo just was a chore. The charm of the text was mostly there, just not as “muchness” as it usually is. It seemed to start in the middle of the story, have no actual middle and then no ending. I am not sure what happened. I was expecting just more to it. The board book format is limiting, but she is known for that style. It is usually the perfect venue for her work: intimate, simple and complex all at once without ever being overpowering. Yet, this time it was just another book.
However, what I do find interesting is that this is the sequel to But Not the Hippopotamus. And for over thirty years people have wondered what happened to that armadillo at the end of the book. Now, Armadillo has their own book, but sadly, it is not one of Boynton’s best work.