Good Read: Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein
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Shel Silverstein, beloved author of the acclaimed and bestselling poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up, will have a brand-new book of poetry published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in September 2011. This is only the second original book to be published since Silverstein’s passing in 1999. With more than one hundred and thirty never-before-seen poems and drawings completed by the cherished American artist and selected by his family from his archives, this collection will follow in the tradition and format of his acclaimed poetry classics.
Matt Markgraf says:
I grew up surrounded by video games. So why read a book when I can interact with a story on the screen? An exception can be made, says my 6-year-old self, for Shel Silverstein. I distinctly remember huddling in a group with other kids over a copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends, or A Light In The Attic, or Falling Up. We loved the dark humor, the daring whimsy and the off-beat illustrations. When I saw NPR’s feature on a new collection of poems, of unpublished work his family had gathered, I literally danced on the WKMS balcony (after pre-ordering the book).
As with other posthumous collections of unpublished things, there’s always the risk of quality. The question forms in my mind: “Why are these unpublished? Because they weren’t good or because the chance simply hadn’t come about?” To be perfectly honest, this collection soars and dives. The poems that seem unpolished are quite obvious, yet the poems that soar are absolutely fantatsic – like finding a diamond ring in a chocolate cake. If you’re willing to forgive a little and enjoy this surprising gift from Silverstein’s family, it will feel like a great bit of closure to a great body of work. Some of my favorite poems are the title poem, “Every Things On It” about a kid who regrets asking for a hotdog with everything, “A Giant Mistake” which posits a very profound ethical question, “The Clock Man” about placing a value on mortality, and the very last poem, of which all I’ll say is quite moving.
As a writer, growing up with Shel Silverstein on my bookshelf has been as much a joy as an asset. He teaches a timeless lesson of thinking for yourself, questioning everything, not taking life too seriously, finding joy in the mundane and delight in the wild.