Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart


The Day Boynton Called

a random phone call from a kind-of-famous writer

Mike Paulus, photos by Ian Kloster

So, about a month ago, something exciting happened at the office. Free donuts? Free beer? Free beer-flavored donuts? Nope, better.

An honest-to-gods celebrity called the Volume One World Headquarters. There we were, proceeding with business as usual, when out of the clear blue sky we got a phone call from ... Sandra Boynton.

You know who Sandra Boynton is, right? No? You’re not alone. A grand total of three of us were beside ourselves in disbelief. The rest of the office had no idea who this Sandra Boynton woman was, and the guy who answered the phone simply took a message.

Until recently, I was the only one in the office with children. A few years ago, if I was going to talk about my kids, I needed to have a damn good story to make up for the fact that I was talking about my kids again.

The three of us able to comprehend the rare importance of this phone call – all of us fathers – quickly proceeded from “business as usual” to “totally geeking out.”

For those who don’t know, Sandra Boynton is the author of over 40 books, most of them for toddlers.* If you have a child in your house, there’s a 98 percent chance you’ve also got a Boynton book somewhere nearby. She’s the genius creator of masterworks such as Moo, Baa, La La La!, Pajama Time!, Hippos Go Berserk!, Dinosaur’s Binkit, and more recent titles such as Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.

Yes, there are a lot of hippos in these books. And a lot of exclamation points.

Boynton is basically the Stephen King of board books – a prolific author at the top of her literary niche. Again, for the uninitiated, a “board book” is just a short kid’s book with pages made of thick cardboard so as to (slightly) hinder the destructive effects of a toddler gnawing on the corners. You see, small humans tend to reduce the printed word to gooey clumps of pulp saturated with drool and other pre-gnawed/moistened materials such as graham crackers. And houseplants.  

Anyway, I was pretty ding-dang excited. She was calling to get permission to use a sound clip from a video Volume One had produced a few years ago. We said yes. To say thank you, she sent all of our kids free (signed) books. Because she’s Sandra friggin’ Boynton and she’s friggin’ awesome.

Until recently, I would have felt the need to hide my giddiness over such a “celebrity” phone call. Because until recently, I was the only one in the office with children. A few years ago, if I was going to talk about my kids, I needed to have a damn good story to make up for the fact that I was talking about my kids again. But now, with a few more dads working alongside me, I’m way more apt to share the riveting tales of raising my amazing superhero offspring.

Yeah, I’m still self-conscious about it. I’m sure I overdo it sometimes. I mean, how many mind-blowing stories of perfect children can one endure before it gets old? At my last job, my coworkers were mostly ladies with their own kids. These stories would have killed back then. I’d have been King of the Office, and I’d have held court every afternoon:

Edith! Gather the ladies for they will be amazed! I’ve got a story about my baby son farting at the dinner table! It concludes with a tender moment at the changing table in which I realize how much I wish he’d met my now-dead grandfather, who also enjoyed farting.

Sadly, I did not have kids back then. So I’m glad to now be working next to a guy who can recite the The Belly Button Book from memory in a variety of horrible accents. He’s way more tolerant of my daily blathering.

For those of you still rolling your eyes about grown men getting all excited over a random phone call from a prominent writer of toddler lit, you just wait. I can’t say you’ll be as big a fan of Lady Boynton as we are, but trust me – if you end up having kids, you will be just as excited about something. And like it or not, it’s your cosmic duty to show that excitement. Maybe you’ll play it cool at work, but once you’re home and in front of your kid, you will totally geek out.  

How else will they learn?

*And, as The Google has just informed me,
over 4,000 greeting cards. Dang, girl!

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.