I was first introduced to Shel Silverstein in my grammar school days when my uncle gave me The Giving Tree for my birthday. He (my uncle that is) has such a wry sense of humor that I was surprised he had such a serious book on his radar screen. Then I read some of Silverstein’s poetry in A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I began to understand the appeal.
Silverstein’s most recently (posthumously) published book of poems does not fail to do justice to that quirky yet somehow realistic view of life we have come to expect from him. No vice or idiosyncrasy escapes his observation, as in Stick-A-Tongue-Out Sid, in which a rude boy gets his come-uppance. Nor does he shy away from taking on modern manias like “sports Dads” in Before the Race and obsessions with preservatives in Food? What I like best about Silverstein, though, is his ability to poke fun without offending. The reader cannot help but laugh when he is insulted in The Ugly Contest.
Silverstein’s simple rhymes and illustrations provide a wonderful introduction to poetry for young children. Sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, but always insightful, Every Thing On It is ideal for reading aloud together. Like Silverstein’s other books, this latest promises to never grow old. Many thanks to his family for having it published!
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.