By Hope Katz Gibbs
HANG ON TO your hat, cowboy. One listen
to and read through of Sandra Boynton’s illustrated country music songbook/CD combo,
Frog Trouble, and you’ll be humming your
way through the day.
Created for ages 1 to “older than dirt,” Frog
Trouble is Boynton’s fifth foray into merging
music, words and art. As with the other CDs
she’s created with keyboard player Michael
Ford, it’s likely to become a certified gold
record–winning New York Times best-seller.
Although you might not know her by
name, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize
Boynton’s signature style and the charming
stories and characters—including huggable-looking hippos, cows and elephants—that
we’ve come to expect from this successful artist and author, who has written more than 50
children’s books since the 1970s.
Discussing her first foray into the country
music scene, Boynton says Frog Trouble gave
her the opportunity to craft 12 songs that are
as wholesome for tykes as they are true for
slightly cynical, lovelorn grownups. “Making a
record is pretty much the most fun a person
can have,” she allows. “Although drawing con-
fused hippos is way up there, too.”
If you fancy country music, the ditties on
the CD won’t let you down. It is packed with
bluegrass, rockabilly and honky-tonk perfor-
mances by some of the music industry’s big-
gest stars, including Dwight Yoakam singing
“I’ve Got a Dog,” Brad Paisley crooning
“Copycat” and Ryan Adams trumpeting
“When Pigs Fly.”
Perhaps best of all is the lonesome-cowboy
title track, “Frog Trouble,” by moody rocker
Mark Lanegan of Queens of the Stone Age.
Packed with musical star power—includ-
ing additional artists such as Ben Folds,
Alison Krauss and Darius Rucker—this
64-pager is filled with wit and wisdom as well
as lyrics and sheet music so readers can sing
and play along.
How did the Orange, New Jersey, native
make her way to the recording studios of
“If you love recording, sooner or later
you’re going to find yourself in Nashville,”
Boynton believes. Of course, taking a tradi-
tional route through life has never been her
style. She went to the University of
California, Berkeley for a year, then dropped
out, transferred to the Yale School of
Drama for a year and a half, and
dropped out again. That’s when the
art bug bit her.
“The summer after my junior
year , I couldn’t face the pros-
pect of waitressing again,” Boynton
explains, so she began designing
Christmas and greeting cards. They
took off—and so did her love life
when she began dating Jamie
McEwan, winner of a 1972 Olympic
bronze medal for canoeing.
“He was a tall, swarthy and cheerfully
subversive Yalie,” says Boynton, who married
him and moved to a farm in the Berkshire
foothills. “Then we collaborated on four per-
fect children and two quirky books.”
Dozens of books by Boynton followed.
Then, in 1996, she wanted to get into the
music business and connected with Ford.
“Mike and I are a very lean team,”
Boynton tells The Costco Connection from her
home office in Connecticut. “I write all the
lyrics and most of the melody, and from there
we create each song together in our small
New England music production studio.”
Was it tough to round up such stellar
singers as Yoakam, Adams and Lanegan for
“It was!” Boynton admits, insisting it took
foolish optimism on her part. “The good news
is they all really loved the songs, so that helped.”
To seal the deal, Boynton sent each musi-
cal star a gift of a stuffed animal (Mr. Chicken,
to be precise). “Surely there’s nothing so per-
suasive as receiving an unexplained stuffed
chicken,” she notes.
What are Boynton’s plans for the future?
“I’m thinking of tackling an enormous pile
of laundry—and buying the Christmas gifts I
meant to get for the kids last year,” she says. C
Hope Katz Gibbs is a freelance writer in
Illustrator and children’s author
Sandra Boynton returns with another
book/CD combo, Frog Trouble.
Frog Trouble and Eleven Other
Pretty Serious Songs is available
at most Costco locations.
goes country in
Tablet or smartphone?
Scan or click here for a video
about the making of the Frog
Trouble CD. (See page 5.)
arts & entertainment