Book Review: Everything On It, by Shel Silverstein


Everything On It, by Shel Silverstein
A spider lives inside my head 
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web 
Of silken threads and silver strings 
To catch all sorts of flying things, 
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles 
And specks of dried-up tears, 
And dust of dreams that catch and cling 
For years and years and years . . .

Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, an amazing collection of never-before-published poems and drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.

What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.

Reading level: Ages 6 and up
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (September 20, 2011)

My Thoughts:
From the delightful and crazy genius of Shel Silverstein comes this wacky collection of poems and drawings.  I doubt there has ever been or ever will be another poet that can move audiences the way that he can.

Call me crazy, but I was not expecting this book to be so funny.  Weird, yes.  But funny?  You should know that I laughed the whole way through.  So did my kids.

Silverstein’s writing is impeccable.  His lines flow off the tongue with ease and captivate children and grown ups alike.  Often, rhyming books and poetry lack an ease of reading out loud.  But the poems in Everything On It rhyme perfectly and flow smoothly, making them easy and fun to read.

Just like his writing, Silverstein’s black and white drawings are entertaining and engaging.  Often, the picture works with the writing to tell the entire story.  His style is easily loved by children.  I think that this is because his artwork looks a lot like something a child would draw.  They relate to art that looks like it belongs in their world.

Silverstein is a kid that never really grew up.  His poems encompass a wide range of crazy subjects including oddly shaped heads, cheating in school, strange salesmen, and obscure shops.  The one subject I noticed pop up more than any other was cannibalism.  If that is a subject that bothers you, then you probably shouldn’t read it.  There are monsters, man eating plants, child eating horses, and people eating giants to be found in the pages of this book.  If you enjoy the wacky and the weird and are ready to find a book full of laughs, then this is the one for you.

About the Author/Illustrator:

“And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about
a very strange lion- in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met.” So
begins Shel Silverstein’s very first children’s book, Lafcadio, the Lion
Who Shot Back. It’s funny and sad and has made readers laugh and think
since it was published in 1963. It was followed the next year by three
more books. The first of them, The Giving Tree, is a moving story about
the love of a tree for a boy. Shel returned to humor the same year
with A Giraffe and a Half, delighting readers with a most riotous
ending. The third book in 1964 was Uncle Shelby’s Zoo Don’t Bump the
Glump! and Other Fantasies, Shel’s first poetry collection, and his
first and only book illustrated in full color. It combined his unique
imagination and bold brand of humor in this collection of silly and
scary creatures. Shel’s second collection of poems and drawings, Where
the Sidewalk Ends, was published in 1974. His recording of the poems
won him a Grammy for best Children’s Album. In this collection, Shel
invited children to dream and dare to imagine the impossible, from a
hippopotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world. With his next
collection of poems and drawings, A Light in the Attic, published in
1981, Shel asked his readers to turn the light on in their attics, to
put something silly in the world, and not to be discouraged by the
Whatifs. Instead he urged readers to catch the moon or invite a dinosaur
to dinner- to have fun! A Light in the Attic was the first children’s
book to break onto the New York Times Bestseller List, where it stayed
for a record-breaking 182 weeks. The last book that was published
before his death in 1999 was Falling Up (1996). Like his other books,
it is filled with unforgettable characters. Shel Silverstein’s legacy
continued with the release of a new work,Runny Babbit, the first
posthumous publication conceived and completed before his death and
released in March 2005. Witty and wondrous, Runny Babbit is a poetry
collection of simple spoonerismsH, which twist the tongue and tease the
mind. Don’t Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies was recently reissued
in 2008 after being unavailable for over 30 years. Shel was always a
believer in letting his work do the talking for him–few authors have
ever done it better.

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  • Reply
    Adriana (BooksOnHerMind)
    February 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

    You've made me want to read this book! Any Shel Silverstein book in fact. I would think his books would be entertaining and funny always. I don't know I seriously need to read a book by him already. Maybe he just does the simple black and white drawings because it will relate to children too. Like a kid drawing on a piece of paper (:

    • Reply
      February 19, 2013 at 4:48 am

      I'm afraid that I got myself hooked on his books. I bought Falling Up, and I'm reading that right now with my daughter.

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