By Janelle Yahne
Library Circulation Associate
In honor of National Poetry Month, let me tell you about a childhood favorite. I still do not fully comprehend the lyrical qualities of poems, but I do understand the childlike view of the world that only Shel Silverstein could display in his poetry, songs, and illustrations. Even when Silverstein was morbid or macabre, I enjoyed the poems because of the images that filled my head.
I do not remember a lot of details of my childhood as clearly as I remember getting Where the Sidewalk Ends. The book was given to me at Christmas while my sister was given A Light in the Attic. My mother wrote a Christmas message about not being “Lazy Jane” and not to build a homework machine. The illustrations were creatively bizarre and I was not sure what to think about somebody being swallowed by a boa constrictor. Nonetheless, I fell in love with his books. I even recited one of the poems for my fifth grade class. “Unicorn Song” is still a favorite, and I enjoy hearing the sung version by the Irish Rovers.
I always knew Silverstein as the author of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree, but he also wrote and performed songs, wrote plays, created comics for Playboy magazine, and created other children’s books. His poem “Unicorn Song” was recorded by the Irish Rovers, and he also wrote “A Boy Name Sue,” that was famously sung by Johnny Cash. We have many of his books in the library, with many available from MeL and also in bookstores. His illustrations are an acquired taste for some readers, but receiving his book as a gift will be a favorite Christmas memory.
Here is a list of books in our collection:
- Falling Up
- A Giraffe and a Half
- The Giving Tree
- The Missing Piece
- Uncle Shelby’s Story of Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?