Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

Talked my head off
Worked my tail off
Cried my eyes out
Walked my feet off
Sang my heart out
So you see,
There's really not much left of me.
(from Losing Pieces by Shel Silverstein)

When Shel Silverstein died at age 68 in 1999, he left many unpublished poems and drawings. A committee of his family has spent years reading and discussing them with the idea of publishing another book for children. Every Thing On It, also the title of a poem with illustration about a surprising way to fix a hot dog, is now available and ready to join Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up on home and library bookshelves.

In a story on National Public Radio, family members explained that Silverstein would not mind their effort. He took great care in the selection and sequencing of poems in his books, leaving out many polished worked just because they did not have a place in his themed collections. Many would have eventually been used. As a result, Every Thing On It is less focused, but the title itself seems to allow for that.

As with any collection of verse, there are poems I like and ones that I don't. "Man-Eating Plant" on page 53, "Unhappy Here" on page 56, "Jimmy-Jack-John" on page 88, "Rainbow Thrower" on page 135, and "Mer-Maid" on page 171 are among my favorites. They range from happy to sad, showing Silverstein in many moods. There is something for just about everyone in this collection, especially for kids who like snappy, irreverent verse. Of course, we are all still kids.

When I am gone what will you do?
Who will write and draw for you?
Someone smarter - someone new?
Someone better - maybe YOU!
(from When I Am Gone by Shel Silverstein)

Silverstein, Shel. Every Thing On It. Harper, 2011. ISBN 9780061998164.

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