How might you answer if asked, “Who was Shel Silverstein?”
Just who was that bald and bearded one-of-a-kind creative beloved by generations of readers?
Not to worry if the correct answer (h) surprised you. Shel Silverstein was all about surprises.
For instance, few folks know:
“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.”
As noted in the New York Times last year, readers were still choosing sides: “a tender story of unconditional love or a disturbing tale of selfishness.”
According to its author, though? “It’s about a boy and a tree. It has a pretty sad ending.”
Shel Silverstein went on to write and illustrate a bounty of books that earned him his beloved status – his poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, and his stories The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets O.
In Lisa Rogak’s biography of Shel Silverstein, A BOY NAMED SHEL, musician and songwriter Chris Gantry shared that “his friend left a legacy of generosity. He was a very giving person to the people he respected and loved. He gave his time and occasionally his money, but more than that, he was willing to share his art with anyone who was truly interested in learning.”
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Shel Silverstein continues to gift his readers after his leave-taking in 1999.
Harper Collins posthumously published the author-illustrator’s collection of spoonerisms, RUNNY BABBIT, in 2005, and in 2011, the illustrated poetry collection EVERYTHING ON IT.
And despite his professed dislike of social media, Shel Silverstein has a website – www.shelsilverstein.com – from which you can order Ecards that boast his art, and even a Facebook page – www.facebook.com/shelsilverstein.
As to how many “likes” he’s received so far, here’s a non-surprising hint: it’s above 557,000.