A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is a collection of 145 previously unpublished poems and illustrations by the late Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree, A Giraffe and a Half, and the poetry collections Falling Up and A Light in the Attic. The subject matter is all G-rated. Edgiest content is a punch line about pee in "Housebroken": The puppy is housebroken at last?/ Lord only knows he was needin' it/ You've trained him to go/ On the newspaper? Fine./ But please -- not while I'm readin' it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This is the first posthumous collection of poems and line drawings published since Silverstein died in 1999. He lives on in these kid-friendly gems that reflect his vast imagination and his undaunted spirit as he makes lemonade out of life's lemons. The tone ranges from wry observation to fanciful speculation to outright silliness.
Is it any good?
Silverstein's mastery is on display as he takes mundane or imagined situations and spins them into laughs or meaningful observations. Many of his poems are bite-sized -- just two to six lines longs. Most reflect a kid-like goofiness, some reveal the mature wisdom of someone who remains young at heart, as in "The Dollhouse": You can't crawl back in the dollhouse --/ You've gotten too big to get in./ You've got to live here/ Like the rest of us do./ You've got to walk roads/ That are winding and new./ But oh, I wish I could/ Crawl back with you./ Into the dollhouse again.
Silverstein's line drawings are the perfect accompaniment to his flights of fancy. Some characters have the deadpan, overburdened demeanor of a person in a New Yorker cartoon. Some have the loose, offhanded look of a notebook doodle. All are guaranteed to give a lift to readers of any age.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a good poem. Is it the rhyme? The rhythm? The way you can say a lot in just a few words?
What makes Shel Silverstein's poems funny? He's not telling jokes, but sometimes he makes you laugh out loud. How does he use humor to get his point across?
Maybe you would like to try writing a poem. Silverstein writes about everyday things like a hot dog, a blow dryer, and cowboy boots, but also about made-up things, like a man-eating plant, a car with legs instead of wheels, a stairway to the sun. And sometimes he just plays with words, like "a lizard in a blizzard." What do you think you could write a poem about?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love poetry
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.