Written 54 years ago by a housewife in New York, “Danny Peanuts” has been published by her son — the book’s subject – Amy Smart Girls

Amy Smart Girls

Article reprinted with permission from the Amy Smart Girls website at https://amysmartgirls.com

When Skip Boyland was growing up, he was unusually small for his age and wished to be “big” like the other children at school. As his mom, Gail Boyland understood this desire and sympathized with her youngest son; although she expressed her empathy in a rather unusual way: by writing a story where her Skip was the main character. She named him Danny Peanuts, and wrote his journey on a note pad in-between motherly duties. Gail was not a professional artist — she was a stay-at-home mom —yet the illustrations and dialogue in Danny Peanuts were so unique that when Skip uncovered the note pad many years ago, he held on to it. Just…in case.

Many decades after Danny Peanuts was written and since Gail passed away, it has been self-published as a children’s book by Skip. His life ended up mirroring the positive message of the book; that you can absolutely overcome something that seems impossible to negotiate in childhood. He pursued his love of horses and has been self-employed as a farrier for his whole career. During our phone call, Skip described his mom as a colorful character. “She was a very cool mom; everybody loved her. She was the hit of the neighborhood, all the kids would come and hang out with her.” He shared with us that one of her favorite hobbies was welcoming injured birds into her home and raising them until they were well enough to be let loose.

“She would have been a great entrepreneur. She was making special dolls for kids, and purses and bags; she was always doing something for the kids. I remember in Little League, she did all the T-Shirts, all the stenciling and everything.”

On the subject of Danny Peanuts, Skip explained how his mom might have tried to do something with the story; had there been computers back then. Upon publishing the book, he kept everything in the style that Gail envisioned. “We tried to match the colors that my mum used,” he said. “It’s amazing that, 50 years later, that this book is still in great shape.”

Danny Peanuts

Since its introduction to the world, Skip explained how Danny Peanuts has really taken on a life of its own. Teachers are using it in classrooms to open up a dialogue about bullying, and most importantly — the path toward self-acceptance; no matter your height, shape, size, race or color. Skip has been present at many readings and book signings, and witnessed the thoughtful reaction from kids.

Danny Peanuts

As far as overcoming his own height, Skip spoke fondly about the direction his life took. “By being small, what I ended up doing was getting into the horse industry, and wanting to be a jockey. So basically, I didn’t need to be big any more. Because my thing was I wanted to be as big as the big boys, but once I got into the horse industry, I needed to be small so I could ride race horses.” He did (ironically) become too tall to actually be a jockey, so he went to shoeing school in 1981 and has been shoeing horses for the last thirty-six years.

“I’m 5’5”, so I’m not real big. But I’ve never felt like I was small anymore. Size wise I’m shorter, but I don’t consider myself small. I showed pictures of myself on race horses to the kids, and tried to explain that you don’t need to be big. We’re all different shapes and sizes, and life is still good.”

Danny Peanuts San Ynez Valley News

If you’re interested in buying Danny Peanuts or reading testimonials from school teachers and young readers, you can do so here. And please spread the word about this special story!

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Article reprinted with permission from the Amy Smart Girls website at https://amysmartgirls.com

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