Joanna hearts Shel Silverstein 4Eva!

I'm jumping in on the banned books discussion to bring up one of my favorite authors of all time...Mr. Mug Shot himself (have you ever SEEN his author photo? ::shivers::)...Mr. Shel Silverstein.

Everyone has brought up a LOT of great books to discuss during Banned Books Week, but I haven't seen much on A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC. I think it's easy to forget the controversy here because it doesn't contain the obvious: sex, drugs, cursing, etc.

Well my friends...even Shel couldn't avoid the Stamp of Disapproval.

Apparently the poem "How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes" encouraged bad behavior according to parents and teachers. And "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony"...well, Shel even has a note to parents at the end here:

"This is a good story
To read to your folks
When they won't buy
You something you want."

Just so you know, it's about a little girl named Abigail who wanted a pony. When her parents refused her the pony, she swore that if she didn't get that pony, she'd die. Her parents scoffed at that. And then she died.




Hahahahaha! Go on, admit it. That's funny! It's so ridiculous and morbid but mostly ridiculous that it's really, really funny! And I remember loving this stuff when I was a kid. I *knew* it wasn't truly possible, but it didn't stop me from laughing.

And let's not forget the ever-controversial rear-end illustration in his poem "Spelling Bee." Go on. Pick up your copy and flip to page 81. Hilarious, right?

The point is that Shel Silverstein made learning FUN. He wrote in a way that made kids want to read on their own, to pronounce the big words he used, to laugh. I, for one, would be a very different person than I am today without author's like Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl (whose James and the Giant Peach was also banned).

Thank you, Mr. Silverstein.
For everything you've written.
If it weren't for you,
in books, I'd not be smitten.

Hey...that's GOLD there people. GOLD.

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Hardygirl said...

Ha!! We totally had to tape a piece of paper over the back of our copy of The Giving Tree. Ol' Shelsy was just too terrifying.

Have you ever listened to A Light in the Attic on CD? It's read by Shel Silverstein in all his wonderful, wacky creepiness. Delicious!


Tere Kirkland said...

These were some of my favorite books as a kid. I got them out of the library over and over again!

Must get my own copy (along with Where the Sidewalk Ends and the Giving Tree) since my husband has *gasp* never read them.

Great post! (Also, yes, ole Shel is a bit spooky looking. But only a spooky looking guy could come up with some of this stuff!)

Loretta Nyhan said...

OK, I probably shouldn't admit this because your impression of me will be blown to bits...but...I always thought old Shel was kind of attractive. I like that shot on the book jacket.

Now you think I'm weird.

But this is seriously an awesome post. I'm shocked to learn this book was banned--it's a classic!

Micah Maddox said...

This may have been the first book I read/owned. His humorous and imaginative perspective made me laugh many times as a child, although in retrospect and ironically, the only poem I still recall today is the one printed on the inside jacket at the end of the book (apologies to the author if somewhat misquoted)...

"but all she could say is _ _ _"

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love love love Shel's books. Not sure I have a copy of The Giving Tree. Will have to rectify that the next time I go to the bookstore.

Susan Adrian said...

I read his books OVER AND OVER. Loved reading them aloud especially!

I'm introducing Child to them now. :) She always takes the book when we're reading and goes and reads the funny ones out loud to her dad.

Hoorah for Shel!

Sarah W said...

Thank you for the reminder! I'm going to pull out Where the Sidewalk Ends and read it to my kids.

Angie said...

I love Shel Silverstein!! The Giving Tree is a fave of mine. It's funny I must have been thinking of a different photo of his. I had one where he looked kind of sexy??

Myrna Foster said...

Best children's poet ever, of course the sort who ban children's books didn't like him. Do they ever like great writers?

Amy Lukavics said...

Pretty much you're my hero. For serious, yo. That pony story is genius.

lotusgirl said...

I swear parents don't give kids enough credit. *shakes head* Shel Silverstein is brilliant.

Unknown said...

Heh. I not only owned most of his books, but my mom actually bought me a record of him reciting a good chunk of his poems - might have been from Where the Sidewalk Ends, actually.

As much fun as it is to read them, his voice lent a sort of maniacal twist to the words, although he was clearly having a good time. (And ad-libbed here and there as well, particularly when it came to the Sharp Toothed Snail. Apparently you're supposed to wrap your handkerchief around your finger and jam it up your nose to get him out.)

To this day I can recite The Crocodile's Toothache verbatim.

lora96 said...

Kids love Shel. I like "Colors" but think the rest is aimed at the younger audience--my class loves them especially Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out.

His author photo always scared me. Like if you didn't read his poems and laugh aloud, dammit, he would come get you.

Susan Spann said...

Shel Silverstein was my absolute favorite when I was little (except for the Giving Tree, which I hated because I was righteously indignant about how that tree was treated).

"The Bridge" is one of my all-time favorite poems, as well as one of the things that first prompted me to write.

Good call bringing him up. May free speech always prevail over stupidity, preferably in the same manner Mrs. McTwitter the Baby-Sitter prevailed upon the baby...

Anonymous said...

Shel! I too had the creepy tape of him reciting his poems! Although when I was seven I didn't think it was creepy.

Yay Susan :) I scrolled through to see if anyone mentioned Mrs. McTwitter! That was the one poem I remembered the most. I can still hear his voice reciting it and the baby squawking at the end!

He was banned?!


Buffy Andrews said...

Well said. (Applause) I love Shel, too:)

Ericka @ Alabaster Cow said...

Ah, Shel, he was the greatest.

Nice poem by the way. Let me know if you're interested in writing this manuscript I keep staring at. At which I keep staring. Ahem.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I don't find the author shivering I can see what you are saying. I do enjoy him though

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I don't find the author shivering I can see what you are saying. I do enjoy him though

AiringMyLaundry said...

I LOVED his poems.

I remember he had one called Lazy Jane, I think it was, and I remove the name Jane and put my husband's name in when I feel he's being extra lazy. He's not as amused as I am. (And the poem goes, 'lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy Jane. She wants a drink of water so she waits, and wait, and waits, and waits for it to rain. Or something like that.)