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As a child growing up we never had a whole lot of money as a form of escape I would read everything I could get my hands on. I always wanted to have this book as a child. I would have been the envy of all my friends as we all loved it so very much. Being so lucky as to have a cousin that had it I would spend hours at her house just reading it over and over again. I have since grown up and had for a time forgotten all about the book. That is till I came across it a few years ago and just had to buy it for my daughter.
Where the side walk ends is a book of poems by Author Shel Silverstein, also known for The Giving Tree, Light In the Attic and several other great books. Having read all of his book I would have to say that my favorite is Where the Sidewalk ends.
As I said this is a book of poems and silly nonsense drawings that fit the poems very well. When I first got this book all that my daughter could do was listen to me read her the poems and look at the pictures. She always laughed and thought they were silly poems with even sillier pictures. I think that most of the pictures that she saw were the ones that the poem vividly painted for her with the wonderful play of words.
Now that my daughter is older and can read the poems for her self. She never goes any where with out the book. All her cousins wish they were her now and had the cool book Where The Sidewalk Ends. She says that its her favorite book in the world that's not a story book.
When I asked my daughter what her favorite poem was she said The Boa Constrictor poem. I will agree it's a good poem and quite funny but for me I would have to say that my favorite poem is about the man with the super long hair that wraps it around him self as he runs down the road bare.
The whole book is full of silly poems about silly things. They really don't mean anything but to a child they are great. For me it's a great way to get my kids to read. When it comes to reading out loud they will actually fight over who is going to read out loud. Used to be when it was time for reading out loud in my house no one would do it. They either complained that they hated to do it or said I was mean for making them do it now they fight over who is going to do it.
So is this a good book for me yes it is. It has brought my family together and believe it or not but it's the one thing in the house that the whole family enjoys when we bring it out. I know when the kids want to read out of the book its going to be a good night.
Would I recommend this book to others you better believe it. This is a book that is great for the imagination as well as rhyming. It teaches kids a lesson as well. The best part is that the kids really enjoy reading all the poems in the book not just one or two. Great book.
My three-year old was given this book as an early Christmas present while on holiday in Canada. The author is fairly well known over there although I am not sure his fame has followed him over the pond to the same extent.
Author: Shel Silverstein
Genre: Childrens poetry
Date of Publication: Originally in 1974. Republished with 12 new poems
Number of Pages: 192
Ages Suitability: 6+ (although, my son loves it so I would suggest it is fine for children aged 2+.
Availability: Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones, Borders
RRP: £18.99 Amazon price: from £6.50
What is Where the Sidewalk Ends?
Where the Sidewalk Ends (30th Anniversary special edition) is a collection of childrens poems ranging from short and silly to long and thought-provoking.
Who is Shel Silverstein?
Shel Silverstein was not only one of Americas best known and well-respected childrens author. He has also received a serious fan base as a radio DJ, an Oscar award for music used in Postcards from the Edge critical acclaim for his cartoons and the praise from the likes of Johnny Cash, Loretta, Marianne Faithful Lynn for whom he wrote songs.
Silverstein began working as a cartoonist for the Military paper Stars and Stripes while stationed in Korea in the fifties and upon his return home gravitated (somewhat reluctantly) into Childrens writing. He has also written a mock childrens book for adults called Uncle Shelbys ABZ Book.
Silverstein had two children. Matthew, now 23 and Shoshanna from a previous marriage. Sadly, Shoshannas mother Susan died when she was just five years old and in 1982, following a cerebral aneurysm, Silversteins dughter also died, aged 11. His book A Light in the Attic was dedicated to his daughter.
On the weekend of May 8 1999, Shel Silverstein died unexpectedly of a heart attach while in Florida.
What we liked about it
I am a big fan of childrens poems for a number of reasons. Primarily, I write childrens poetry myself (keep your eyes open for my name in print soon any day now theyll soon call) but also because they tend to grab a childs imagination well whilst retaining the focus of short attention spans.
Having said that, there is a difference between quality, thoughtful poetry and some of the tacky and relatively pointless poetry that fills our shelves these days. I dont mind reading my son poems about benal subjects like Supermans underwear (no I am not kidding) now and again but I prefer a bit of substance on a regular basis. Where the Sidewalk ends offers plenty of substance.
Dont get me wrong there are plenty of ridiculous, silly, just for the sake of it poems included dont expect a life lesson from The Naked Hippo for example, but the collection is also peppered with pieces that challenge some pre-conceptions kids can grow up with and stand up to some serious issues facing kids these days. Topics like bullying and respecting each other, making friends, being lonely and appreciating each others differences and individuality are raised in a kid-friendly, un-preachy way. There are even poems that nudge children into doing there chores Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would not take the garbage out, and remind them of the perils of not having baths The Dirtiest Man in the World.
Shel manages to create an alliance of sorts with his readers. Reading the book to my son at bed time, I am painfully aware that Kyle and Silverstein are very much involved in a harmless conspiracy against me as a parent. Poems like Listen to the Mustnts and My rules poke fun at parents which of course, all kids love. He talks to kids on their level, involving them more in his writing.
The book also has its fill of the plain ludicrous with contributions like The Yipiyuk and Dancing Pants. These strike me as a sort of hybrid cross between Dr Seuss and Lewis Carroll. Silverstein doesnt attempt anything fancy with his poetry. He doesnt slip in the odd Haiku or anything like that. His poems lean more towards a fun, upbeat rhyming verse which helps hold a childs attention and gives parents a chance to play with the words a bit more. He makes up words on occasion and uses repetition making his poems more interactive.
For the most part, the words seem to be their own illustrations although Siverstein, also an accomplished artist/cartoonist has included some basic yet appropriate black and while drawings throughout the book. Most poems are accompanied by an illustration of some sort although they are far from the focus. They are of a stylized, exaggerated cartoon nature, some almost appeared scribbled as an afterthought but this approach works well for the material.
If at 3 years old, my son is still interested enough for us to finish the 192 page book in 4 days, it is fairly safe to say the book doesnt suffer without more extravagant images. I am of the opinion that more pictures would only limit kids in using their imagination to set the scene to Silversteins poems.
Our Final Thought on the matter
There is only one thing that bothered me about this book and that is the annoyingly american spelling. Are they really too lazy to add a u in colour??? There are a few references to american language which may through some off, like garbage instead of rubbish and I don't expect the British Public to identify with "PEanut Butter Sandwich".
No farting, no burping, and only one poem about picking your nose.
I was totally impressed by this book. Originally daunted by its imposing size, I was concerned it would be too much for my 3 year old but he thoroughly enjoyed it. There is nothing that makes me smile more than the sound of him looking so snug peeking out from behind the covers and giggling away and this book made sure he was smiling when I kissed him goodnight each time. There is no higher critical acclaim in my opinion.