By: Danielle Prostrollo
Of course it is no badge of pride to have an overdue library book, but it is nonetheless true. When I was about 7 years old I borrowed the popular Shel Silverstein book from the public library and then managed to accidentally keep it for, what I think was, 3 or 4 years. That’s a lot of money in overdue fines. But while my criminal record is forever tarnished, my relationship with poetry was shaped by that compilation.
I still go back to Silverstein on occasion, his writing is proof that poetry and literature does not need to be erudite to be masterful. Most of his poems are one or two stanzas – short enough to keep the interest of young readers – and depict a world where not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but that it’s usually ok anyway.
In his later book Falling Up, Silverstein posits that if sunglasses keep out the sun then surely rainglasses can keep out the rain. This kind of close-to-home whimsy allows kids (and grown-ups) to question their own world and consider why things are ‘the way they are’.
Other Silverstein works hit on aspects of life that most will find relevant well into adulthood as is the case with Tell Me which manages to distill common human phenomenon… “tell me I’m great/look thin/did a good job/etc… but be honest” into 8 lines.
In a time when it feels increasingly nice to turn off the news for a spell, A Light in the Attic (and any Shel Silverstein book) feels just as entertaining, relatable, and poignant as it did when I was seven.
You can find A Light In The Attic at the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library here:
Photo: http://www.shelsilverstein.com/ from the cover of Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends