MIAMI BEACH -- Syd Hoff, a former cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine who is known to generations of children as the author of "Sammy the Seal" and "Danny and the Dinosaur," died May 12 at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He was 91.
His daughter, Bonnie Stillman, said the cause was pneumonia.
Born in the Bronx, Mr. Hoff wrote and illustrated the inaugural volume of the "Danny and the Dinosaur" trilogy in 1958. The books, about a dinosaur who comes to life, were part of the I Can Read series, a line of books aimed at beginners.
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."
Mr. Hoff enrolled in the National Academy of Design in New York City at age 16 in the hopes of becoming 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 a total of 571 cartoons to The New Yorker, from 1931 to 1975. Mr. Hoff also had two syndicated cartoons. "Tuffy," about a little girl, started in 1939 and ran 10 years. "Laugh It Off" started in 1958 and ran for 20 years.
He also starred in a brief series of television shows in the 1950s, "Tales of Hoff," in which he told a story and drew cartoons while on the air.
Mr. Hoff's wife, Dora, died in 1994. He leaves his daughter and two grandchildren.