Shel Silverstein: Anything Can Happen, Childen

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

Shel+Silverstein+PNGAs a birthday present to my sister I told her she could pick one of the subjects that I write about this week and here it is: Shel Silverstein!  Honestly I’m a little surprised that I hadn’t thought to write about him sooner because Silverstein is one of my favorite writers.  Although he is best known for his children’s books, his talents extended far beyond the fun-filled poems and cartoons that occupy the pages of his books.  Reading through the About Shel section on his website reveals just how talented he was, but even the bio can’t completely cover the career of the uniquely brilliant Shel Silverstein.

474-1Before he ever wrote his internationally known children’s books, Shel was published in magazines including Look, Sports Illustrated, and This Week.  He became one of Playboy’s lead cartoonists, appearing in the magazine from 1957 to the mid-1970s.  While working with Playboy he composed 23 installments called “Shel Silverstein Visits…” which were his own experiences at different locations drawn out in a sketchbook format.  These works were later collected and published as Playboy’s Silverstein Around the World with a foreword from Hugh Hefner.  The book Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book was an expansion of his work with the magazine and was labeled with “A Primer for Adults Only.”  To keep people from mistaking it as a children’s book he used the name Uncle Shelby when he first started writing for a younger audience.

Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, Silverstein’s first children’s book, was published in 1963.  Within the next year he published both A Giraffe and a Half, a cute story featuring zoo animals, and The Giving Tree, a bittersweet story about a boy and a tree that loved him for his whole life.  According to his bio it actually took him four years to get The Giving Tree published because of the sad ending.  But Shel refused to change the ending because “life, you know, had pretty sad endings. You don’t have to laugh it up even if most of my stuff is humorous.”  After it was finally published the book was widely embraced by both adults and children.

9780060256739Silverstein’s greatest accomplishment in his work with children’s books was probably A Light In The Attic.  This was the first children’s book to make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List and further break records by staying there for 182 weeks.  But like I said earlier, Silverstein’s accomplishments weren’t secluded to only magazines and children’s books.  He’s an award winning songwriter as well.  Probably the most notable song he wrote was “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash.

If you never read Silverstein as a child it’s never too late to start.  His poems don’t have an age limit.  They’re a great way to let your inner child back out.  Whether it’s a silly poem like “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too” or a life lesson you hope to teach your own children like in “Listen to the Mustn’ts,” Shel Silverstein’s books stay relevant even today.

photo-2Keep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades


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