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."
- Author: Shel Silverstein
- Illustrator: Shel Silverstein
- Genre: Poetry
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: January 20, 2004
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Hardback
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
For kids who love poetry and humor
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