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Where the Sidewalk Ends
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Where the Sidewalk Ends is a beloved collection of humorous poems and drawings first published by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree) in 1974. Some poems are a bit macabre -- a skinny boy who disappears down the bathtub drain, a crocodile with a toothache who chomps a sadistic dentist, and so on. But there's compassion and morality in here too, leavened with comic mayhem. Great as a read aloud for pre-readers, a book for beginning readers, and a surefire hit with third and fourth graders who get a kick out of reading and reciting the many funny poems.
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What's the story?
Shel Silverstein opens WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS with an invitation to dreamers, wishers, liars, and more to gather round and spin "flax-golden tales." What follows is a charming collection of wittily subversive poems and line drawings: There's a fed-up boy trying to sell his sister, a child who hoards wishes, a boy who uses his magical eraser to handle a skeptic, a lazy girl who just waits for it to rain so she can have something to drink, a warning about the sharp-toothed snail that lies in wait for nose-pickers. The 30th anniversary edition published in 2004 includes an extra dozen poems.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
- Families can talk about the many styles of poetry in Where the Sidewalk Ends. Look for rhyming words, visual gags, and different forms of rhythm and repetition.
- Write poetry together. To get started, choose one of Silverstein's poems and try writing an extra verse or two. A good starting point is "Toucan," which ends with the lines: "Who can write some/ More about the toucan?/ You can!"
- Listen to Silverstein's recording of Where the Sidewalk Ends. Some of the poems in collection were also set to music, including "The Unicorn," "Helping," and "Boa Constrictor."
For kids who love poetry and humor
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