Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Every Thing on It, by Shel Silverstein

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That is the first poem of Shel Silverstein's Everything On It, a book of funny, easy-to read poems about mostly random topics, from a hot dog with everything on it (Hmm, that sounds familiar) to 28 uses for spaghetti.

I particularly loved this book because of the funny poems.  My two favorite poems in this book are "The One who Invented Trick-or-Treat," a poem spoken by a dentist who claims that he invented trick-or-treating to make more money, and "The Lovetobutcants," about a person trying to make up excuses for not having to do any work or chores. Another poem I like, "Growing Down," is about a grumpy old man called Grow-Up Brown who is always telling children to grow up and act more mature. One day, the children suggest to him that he should try growing "down" instead, and act more like a child. So he does it for a while. And what do you think happens?

When Shel Silverstein wrote this book, he too was "growing down." I believe that when he writes poems like these, he feels like a child again. He wants to share that feeling of being young again with his adult and teenage readers. However, this book is appropriate for anyone because it has no rude humor and has no challenging words, making it ideal for younger kids as well as adults. This book can help introduce children to the world of poetry. They probably think poetry is all boring and about love and all that. But that's not (necessarily) the case at all. After reading this book children may ask for more poetry books, or even feel inspired to write their own poems. I can guarantee that anyone who reads this book will love it.

And keep an eye out for his other poetry books, including Where the Sidewalk Ends, Runny Babbit, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic!


Daddy's afterthoughts:  When I was about Julia's age, or perhaps slightly younger, I saw a stage presentation of dramatized readings of Shel Silverstein poems. I was hooked, so as soon as my kids were old enough to read poetry (and to not destroy expensive hardcover books) I started buying them one Silverstein hardcover per year for the holidays, and still have a few left to go. If your kids like Silverstein, then for sure hunt down Ogden Nash's poetry, or Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes, and if you're lucky you'll stumble across a hard-to-find book called O Sliver of Liver by Myra Cohn Livingston. More adventurous young readers of fantastical poetry will thrill to Nancy Willard's Newberry Medal and Caldecott Honor-winning book A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers.

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