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About Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)
[Lesson Plans]

Kid's Author Shel Silverstein Dies

Listen to the Mustn'ts
Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein

Don't Bump the Glump!: And Other Fantasies DON'T BUMP THE GLUMP!: AND OTHER FANTASIES

Have you ever . . .
Seen a Gritchen in your kitchen?
Dared to dance with the One-Legged Zantz?
Declined to dine with the Glub-Toothed Sline?

Don't Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies was Shel Silverstein's first poetry collection published in 1964 and his only children's book to contain full-color art. Reissued in a slightly larger format (2008), this collection of 45 poems is all about imaginary, silly and scary creatures. Are you scared?
Ages 9-12

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THE GIVING TREE

A book for both the young and old, simple and sophisticated which tells the story of a boy throughout his life and the Tree that kept on giving. Powerful and wonderful. A book for every child's library.

[Lesson Plan]

[Lesson Plan]

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Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook
All Ages
20 years in the making
2005
RUNNY BABBIT: A BILLY SOOK

Runny Babbit lent to wunch
And heard the saitress way,
"We have some lovely stabbit rew --
Our Special for today."

From the legendary creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and The Giving Tree comes an unforgettable new character in children's literature.

Welcome to the world of Runny Babbit and his friends Toe Jurtle, Skertie Gunk, Rirty Dat, Dungry Hog, Snerry Jake, and many others who speak a topsy-turvy language all their own.

So if you say, "Let's bead a rook
That's billy as can se,"
You're talkin' Runny Babbit talk,
Just like mim and he.
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Where the Sidewalk Ends

25th Anniversary Edition
BOOK AND CD

Where the Sidewalk Ends
"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...
Come in...for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein's world begins."

School Presentation


A Light in the Attic

"There's a light on in the attic.
Though the house is dark and shuttered,
I can see a flickerin' flutter,
And I know what it's about.
There's a light on in the attic.
I can see it from the outside,
And I know you're on the inside...lookin' out".

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A Light in the Attic

20th Anniversary Edition
BOOK AND CD

A Giraffe and a Half A Giraffe and a Half

"...you would have a giraffe and a half
with a rat in his hat
looking cute in a suit
with a rose on his nose
and a bee on his knee
playing toot on a flute
with a chair in his hair
and a snake eating cake
and a skunk in a trunk
and a dragon in a wagon
and a spike in his bike"

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Shel Silverstein

"If you are a dreamer, come in," begins "Invitation," the opening poem in Where the Sidewalk Ends. Millions of dreamers have answered that call, returning again and again to the poems, drawings, stories, songs, plays, and all the other inspired creations of the incomparable Shel Silverstein.

Born in Chicago on September 25, 1930, Sheldon Allan Silverstein grew up to attain an enormous public following, but he always preferred to say little about himself. "When I was a kid," he told Publishers Weekly in 1975, "1 would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn't play ball. I couldn't dance. So I started to draw and to write." He began contributing cartoons to Stars and Stripes, the US. military publication, when he was serving in the armed forces in Korea during the 1950s.

Shel Silverstein never planned on writing and illustrating books for children, but happily they are now available in more than 30 languages around the world. His first book, Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book, published in 1961, was intended for adults. But Tomi Ungerer, a friend whose own career in children' s books was blossoming, introduced him to his editor, Harper's legendary Ursula Nordstrom. In 1963, Shel Silverstein' s first children' s book appeared, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, the story of a lion who becomes a famous marksman only to discover that worldly success is not what he wants.

The next year brought The Giving Tree. The book sold modestly at first, but soon this gentle parable about a boy and the tree that loved him was admired by readers of all ages, recommended by counselors and teachers, and being read aloud from pulpits. Decades after its initial publication, with more than five and a half million copies sold, The Giving Tree holds a permanent spot atop lists of perennial bestsellers.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein' s first collection of poems, was published in 1974 and hailed as an instant classic. Its poems and drawings were applauded for their zany wit, irreverent wisdom, and tender heart. Two more collections followed: A Light in the Attic, in 1981, and Falling Up, in 1996. Both books dominated bestseller lists for months, with A Light in the Attic shattering all previous records for its 182-week stay on the New York Times list. His poetry books are widely used in schools as a child's first introduction to poetry.

Silverstein's unique talent ranged broadly. He enjoyed a long career as a songwriter, with credits that included Johnny Cash's number one hit 'A Boy Named Sue," "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" sung by Dr. Hook, and "I'm Checking Out," written for the film "Postcards from the Edge" and nominated for an Academy Award in 1991. He performed his own songs on a number of albums and wrote others for friends, including his last in 1998, "Old Dogs," a two-volume set with country stars Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, Bobby Bare, and Jerry Reed. Silverstein won a Grammy Award for Best Childrern's Album in 1984 for Where the Sidewalk Ends, "recited, sung, and shouted" by the author.

Shel Silverstein was so accomplished as a playwright that Fyank Rich, the New York Times critic, once wondered if the theater "may eventually prove his most fruitful career to date." His theatrical work included the 1981 hit "The Lady or the Tiger Show" as well as "Remember Crazy Zelda?" and "Wild Life" (the 1988 production of several one-act Shel Silverstein plays that prompted Mr. Rich' s happy speculation). He and David Mamet each wrote a play for Lincoln Center's production of "Oh, Hell," and they later collaborated on writing the 1988 film "Things Change," which Mr. Mamet also directed.

Shel Silverstein loved to spend time in Greenwich Village, Key West, Martha's Vineyard, and Sausalito, California. Up until his death in Key West in May 1999, he continued to create plays, songs, poems, stories, and drawings, and most importantly, in Shel's own words, "have a good time."

—HarperCollins Publishers


Monday May 10 9:47 PM ET 1999 Kid's Author Shel Silverstein Dies

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - Shel Silverstein, the author of such acclaimed children's books as "A Light in the Attic'' and "Where the Sidewalk Ends,'' was found dead Monday morning of a heart attack. He was 66.

Silverstein had severe coronary artery disease. Friends said he had recently complained of an upset stomach and "didn't feel quite right,'' said Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Eicher.

Two cleaning women discovered Silverstein's body in the bedroom of his home Monday. Eicher said he could have died Sunday or Monday.

Silverstein's books, which he illustrated with his own humorous images, are packed with colorful characters like walruses with braces and camels in brassieres. His poetry is light and irreverent and humored children and adults alike.

"It's a devastating loss,'' said his longtime friend and lawyer Sheldon Vidibor of Los Angeles. "I'm numb.''

Vidibor described him as "the sweetest brightest man that I know, good to everybody, loyal, loving. He's a wonderful person, a wonderful human being. It goes without saying incredibly talented.''

Silverstein is best known for his children's poetry. His work includes "The Giving Tree'' (1964), "Falling Up'' (1996) "Where the Sidewalk Ends'' (1974) "A Light in the Attic'' (1981) "The Missing Piece'' (1976) and "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O'' (1981).

Silverstein's characters in "A Light in the Attic'' include Mrs. McTwitter, the Gink and the Dragon of Grindly Grun. Mrs. McTwitter is the baby sitter, who's "a little bit crazy. She thinks a baby sitter's supposed to sit upon the baby.''

The quick-digesting Gink is a giant lizard who swallows some children, and the fire-breathing dragon complains that "lunches aren't very much fun. For I like my damsels medium rare and they ALWAYS come out well done.''

The Giving Tree celebrates 35 years in publication this fall. Silverstein won numerous awards for his work including the Michigan Young Readers Award for "Where the Sidewalk Ends.''

In the poem "Hug O' War,'' from "Where the Sidewalk Ends,'' Silverstein describes his favorite game:

"I'd rather play at hug o' war,

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

And rolls on the rug,

Where everyone kisses,

And everyone grins,

And everyone cuddles,

And everyone wins...''

Children find his poems "exciting and fun - they're silly,'' said Jaime Johnson, children's librarian at the Coral Gables Library. "He was different than Dr. Seuss. It had to do more with reality ... he used things kids knew.''

Before turning to children's poetry, Silverstein wrote verse for adults only. His career began as a writer and cartoonist for Playboy magazine in 1952.

He later served in the Army in Japan and Korea, where he was a cartoonist for the Pacific Stars and Stripes.

Silverstein also was a celebrated lyricist, publishing numerous songs including Johnny Cash's "A Boy named Sue'' and Loretta Lynn's "One's on the Way.'' He also wrote the folk songs "Unicorn'' and "25 Minutes to Go.''

Survivors include his 15-year-old son, Mathew.