• Ryanne Harper

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

I LOVE children's books. The ability to convey a really complex message using so few words is pretty amazing. Plus, I like reading them aloud to my dogs. Don't knock it until you try it. And your dogs will love it, too.

Today would have been Shel Silverstein's birthday. He is probably best known for The Giving Tree. Though I love The Giving Tree, I find it really sad. I love the tree. The boy, though, needs to learn how a give and take relationship works. Even still, I love the book.

In case you've been living in a cave and haven't read The Giving Tree, it's about a boy who loves a tree. He plays in the branches and eats all the apples. As he grows up, he begins taking from the tree. He takes and takes until the tree is nothing but a stump. And, then, as an old man, he sits on the stump to rest. So, he's technically still taking.

But, the tree loves the boy so she doesn't mind.

I told you it was sad.

Shel Silverstein also wrote collections of poetry such as "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Light in the Attic". Silverstein also did his own illustrations. He had a signature style that is instantly recognizable as his. Though somewhat simple, his drawings pair so well with his writing style that it's hard to imagine anyone else illustrating his work.

Silverstein never intended to be write children's books. In fact, before publishing The Giving Tree, he was a cartoonist for Playboy Magazine. So, completely different audience. He was also quite the songwriter; he wrote over 800 songs, including Johnny Cash's hit, A Boy Named Sue.

Though best known as a children's author, he did a little bit of everything. Including getting expelled from college due to poor grades and he narrowly avoided getting court martialed over a comic strip. He also published several satirical pieces under the pseudonym Uncle Shelby.

So, read a little Shel to the kiddos or your pets. Then read a little Uncle Shelby for yourself.


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