Where the Sidewalk Ends we find Shel Silverstein and his eccentric universe

Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends. The poems and drawings of Shel Silverstein Published 1974 by Harper & Row, 176p/ In limba romana: Acolo unde nu mai e trotuar, Editura Arthur, 2015

If you are a dreamer, come in, / If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,/ A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…/ If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire/ For we have some flax-golden tales to spin./ Come in!/ Come in!

INVITATION

Silverstein’s invitation opens a door to an unconventional universe. The man who used to draw cartoons for Playboy, compose music for films, write songs for Johnny Cash and stir up debates on his eccentric style and who was later encouraged by his publisher at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, to write children’s poetry, creates a brilliant and timeless collection of poems and drawings that depict his fondness of childhood and the uniqueness and creativity of this age.

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know/ The place where the sidewalk ends.(Where the Sidewalk Ends)

It is a world of unexpected associations, delightful content and amusing rhymes. Sometimes weird, sometimes scary Silverstein’s world has authenticity and the joy of living. Children are advised to be polite and respectful but playfulness, enjoyment, laughter and even a sense of buffoonery will mainly outline Silverstein’s universe.

We’ll meet Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who would not take the garbage out and would lose all her friends and neighbours, an invisible boy, a silly young king Who played with the world at the end of a string,/ But he only loved one single thing – / And that was a peanut-butter sandwich. We’ll discover a crocodile that goes to the dentist, a pair of dancing pants, a boy fascinated with band aids and a man whose beard grows to his toes so he never wears clothes.

The poet himself is a dreamer but confident in his work. A self-trained artist Silverstein really captures the essence of childhood. Not too sentimental, not too silly, not too ironic he finds a balance in everything when depicting this wonderful age.

COLORS

My skin is kind of sort of brownish 

Pinkish yellowish white.

My eyes are greyish blueish green,

But I’m told they look orange in the night.

My hair is reddish blondish brown,

But it’s silver when it’s wet.

And all the colors I am inside

Have not been invented yet.

SICK

“I cannot go to school today’”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I’m going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox

And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,

And don’t you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut, my eyes are blue –

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I’m sure that my left leg is broke –

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button’s caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,

My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb,

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my spine is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hang nail, and my heart is – what?

What’s that? What’s that you say?

You say today is… Saturday?

G’bye, I’m going out to play!”

Complement Where the Sidewalk Ends with Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, a controversial yet delicate story on unconditional love.

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