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Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings    by Shel Silverstein order for
Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2002 (1974)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The title of this collection of Shel Silverstein's illustrated whimsy comes from a verse of the same name, 'There is a place where the sidewalk ends / And before the street begins ...', a place well known to this author, who shares with children its riches of imagination.

Some of his poems are funny and delightfully silly, like Boa Constrictor ('Oh gee, / It's up to my knee'); Sick (Peggy Ann goes through a long, long list of excuses for avoiding school, but what day do you think it is?); and then there's a child's horrendous fate after Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out. The Planet of Mars is hilariously topical and I've always enjoyed hearing the Irish Rovers sing The Unicorn ('A long time ago when the earth was green'), but never knew that Silverstein wrote the words.

Though the silly stuff is great fun, I liked the more serious verses even more, for their powerful messages. How about playing Hug O' War, where 'everyone cuddles, / And everyone wins' instead of tug o' war? Silverstein tells us to Listen to the Mustn'ts, 'Then listen close to me- / Anything can happen, child, / ANYTHING can be.' And he explains that there's No Difference between people in the dark, 'So maybe the way / To make everything right / Is for God to just reach out / And turn off the light!'

Those are my favorites, but there's lots of choice, feel free to pick your own - you'll linger over the verses in Where the Sidewalk Ends, and kids will clamor to re-read them often.

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