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Every Thing On It

( 8 )


A spider lives inside my head Who weaves a strange and wondrous web Of silken threads and silver strings To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling For years and years and years . . .

Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, an amazing collection of never-before-published poems ...

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A spider lives inside my head Who weaves a strange and wondrous web Of silken threads and silver strings To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling For years and years and years . . .

Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, an amazing collection of never-before-published poems and drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.

What's that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This posthumous collection of Silverstein's poems and illustrations is not only familiar in design, but chockfull of the whimsical humor, eccentric characters, childhood fantasies, and iconoclastic glee that his many fans adore. Like the boy who orders a hot dog "with everything on it" (" came with a parrot,/ A bee in a bonnet,/ A wristwatch, a wrench, and a rake"), there are plenty of surprises in store for readers. Although a few poems feel a tad fragmentary, overall the volume includes some of Silverstein's strongest work, brilliantly capturing his versatility and topsy-turvy viewpoint. The poems take expectedly unexpected twists (Walenda the witch rides a vacuum cleaner); a few are gross ("Let's just say/ I took a dare," reads "Mistake," as Silverstein shows a snake trailing out of a boy's pair of shorts, its tail still entering through his mouth), but many more display Silverstein's clever wordplay, appreciation of everyday events, and understated wisdom. "There are no happy endings./ Endings are the saddest part,/ So just give me a happy middle/ And a very happy start." The silly-for-the-sake-of-silly verses are nicely balanced with sweetly contemplative offerings, including a poignant final poem that offers an invitation to readers: "When I am gone what will you do?/ Who will write and draw for you?/ Someone smarter—someone new?/ Someone better—maybe YOU!" All ages. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Reading a Shel Silverstein book is like visiting an old friend. You know exactly what to expect: the fun, the irreverence, and the silliness. This book has another element: poignancy. This is a posthumous collection and it is sad that there will be no more contributions from this Renaissance man. The very first poem, Years from Now, talks of Silverstein's legacy: "Although I cannot see your face, As you flip these poems awhile, somewhere from some far-off place, I hear you laughing—and I smile." There is also a wistfulness in The Clock Man: " ?How much will you pay for an extra day?' He asked when the time came to die. ?All of the pearls in all of the seas, And all of the stars in the sky.'" There are several "list" poems, Silverstein's device of stringing together series of related, tongue-twisting phrases. Italian Food will certainly win prizes in forensic contests for those who can wrap their mouths around the words, but the Lovebutcants doesn't quite approach the wisdom of Listen to the Mustn'ts. It helps to see rather than hear a Silverstein book for how else can you appreciate the reason that a prince will not seek a giant-footed Cinderella. Some of the poems are adult, such as the hypocrisy of a mink-adorned woman protesting to save the whales in In Her. Don't count on Silverstein for perfect rhymes (or why would an elephant marry a pelican in The Romance because they sort of rhyme). Forgive Shel his rocky meter and his imperfect scan, because these are the legacy of an insanely gifted man. Pick and choose among the jewels he has left: "When I am gone, what will you do? Who will write and draw for you? Someone smarter—someone new? Someone better—maybe YOU?" Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—Silverstein pushes playful poesy to its limits with drawings that are as strange and wonderful as the artist's earlier collections. The title selection, a list poem imagining a hot dog with literally "everything on it," is an apt metaphor for this posthumous collection of new work that includes poems, riddles, surprise endings, poems of creature foibles and fables, wry social commentary, and, of course, the idiosyncratic line drawings that spell Silverstein. In "Turning Into," a boy swings from a tree shouting "wow," and when he topples to the ground, he finds that his "wow" is now "MOM." In another illustration, a man is so in love with himself that he has twisted his neck to get a better look. Some poems are lyrical: a rainbow thrower "hurls his colors/Cross the sky" while a rainbow catcher waits at "Horizon's gate." Perhaps the most poignant is "The Clock Man," in which the question, "How much will you pay for an extra day?" is answered throughout life's stages. Like the boy holding the delightfully absurd hot dog with everything piled upon it, this collection offers a Silverstein smorgasbord that won't linger on the library shelves.—Tess Pfeifer, Springfield Renaissance School, MA
Kirkus Reviews

A second posthumous collection from the archives of the multitalented Silverstein is definitely a cause for celebration.

"Although I cannot see your face / As you flip these poems awhile, / Somewhere from some far-off place / I hear you laughing—and I smile." This and 129 other poems chosen by Silverstein's family see light here for the first time. Those vexed by the relentless spoonerisms of 2005's Runny Babbit will delight that these buried gems are different each to each. There are tales of garlic breath and child-eating plants (and child-eating land sharks and a horse that's pretty hungry). There are admonitions never to eat a snake (whole) or look up the chimney for Santa. The poems vary in length as much as in subject matter, running from a line or two to several pages. Silverstein's inspired word play and impish sense of humor are in abundant evidence. His signature line drawings accompany many of the poems and complete the jokes of some. If there are one or two that feel a bit flat, the hijinks or silly grossness of the next poem more than make up for them. "When I am gone what will you do? / Who will write and draw for you? / Someone smarter—someone new? / Someone better—maybe YOU!"

Adults who grew up with Uncle Shelby will find themselves wiping their eyes by the time they get to the end of this collection; children new to the master will find themselves hooked. (Poetry. All ages)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061998164
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 37,066
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein is the author-artist of many beloved books of prose and poetry. He was a cartoonist, playwright, poet, performer, recording artist, and Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated songwriter.


If there is such a thing as a "bad boy of children's literature," it would have to be Shel Silverstein. Though often compared to Dr. Seuss for his ability to blend humor and nonsense into irresistible rhymes, Silverstein also ventured into macabre territory that the good Doctor wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot Sneetch. Silverstein broached such unsavory topics as nose-picking, the consumption of children, and winds so strong they could decapitate a man right out from under his hat.

It's a testament to Silverstein's abilities as a cartoonist and storyteller that he was able to endow such subjects with just the right silliness and humor, endearing him to both children and adults. In collections such as the classic Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up, Silverstein makes poems into page-turners -- aided in no small part by his grungy, whimsical black-and-white drawings. He also displays a tenderhearted understanding for kids' fears and peccadilloes; one poem in A Light in the Attic, for example, all but endorses nailbiting: "It's a nasty habit, but ... I have never ever scratched a single soul."

A lifelong writer and illustrator, Silverstein had been a cartoonist for an army newspaper in Korea in the 1950s, and then a contributor to magazines. Like many succesful writers for children, Silverstein never planned to author children's books. Ironically, his first attempt at the genre -- the book that established the one-time Playboy cartoonist as a school library fixture -- is something of an anomaly in his ouevre: The Giving Tree. This bittersweet story of a tree that ultimately sacrifices itself -- down to the stump -- to the boy she loves over the course of his life was initially rejected by Silverstein's editor. Of course, it has gone on to be a great, if sentimental, success. But it was Where the Sidewalk Ends, Silverstein's straightforward collection of crooked poems, that cemented his place as a must-read for the young and young at heart. Silverstein bristled at comparisons to fellow "nonsense poet" Edward Lear, preferring instead to cite his former teacher, Robert Cosbey, as an influence.

It's worth looking at some of Silverstein's less well-known picture books, such as Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? and Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, as examples of how funny (and how subversive) Silverstein could be. In Lafcadio, the ultimate anti-hunting story, a lion learns to become such a good marksman that he provides "hunter rugs" for his fellow lions and ends up touring as a celebrity. Lafcadio soon gets bored with his opulent life, and what used to be thrilling no longer is: "This morning I went up and down in the elevator 1,423 times," he cries at one point. "IT'S OLD STUFF!"

In later years, Silverstein turned more attention to dramatic writing. Titles such as The Lady and the Tiger, Wild Life and The Devil and Billy Markham were produced with varying degrees of success, and some are still being staged by small theater groups. Silverstein also wrote a well-received screenplay, Things Change, with pal David Mamet in 1988.

Still, Silverstein's poetry is what remains his most popular contribution. His verse gave kids permission to be a little grown-up for a while, and (just as importantly) let adults experience the not-always-simple perspective of children.

Good To Know

Silverstein was a soldier in the U.S. Army in Japan and Korea in the '50s and drew cartoons for Stars and Stripes, the American military publication. His next cartooning gig was for Playboy.

Silverstein wrote several songs. His country-western song "A Boy Named Sue" was a hit for Johnny Cash in 1969. His song for Postcards From the Edge, "I'm Checkin' Out," was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sheldon Allan Silverstein (full name)
      Shel Silverstein
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 25, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      May 10, 1999
    2. Place of Death:
      Key West, Florida

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2011

    An absolute MUST for all Shel Silverstein fans

    Readers of all ages will delight in this new collection from Shel Silverstein. It's so rare to have the opportunity to enjoy new work from a beloved artist who has passed away, so thanks to the Silverstein Estate for giving this collection to Shel's fans so we might have that pleasure of discovering something new from the brilliant and inventive Shel Silverstein once more.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2011

    I Also Recommend:


    Wonderful book with beautiful poems. Highly recommended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Very Enjoyable!

    This is a must have for every collector out there. The fun and light story will definitely lighten up your mood.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2011

    You need to add this to your collection!

    As usual, witty, clever, funny. The pictures say it all! Silverstein is brilliant.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2013

    Good intro to poetry

    Our three-year old loves the rhyming Much of the subject matter is over her head, but it presents a good gateway to discuss meanings of things. Have read each poem at least three times within the last three weeks.

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  • Posted February 18, 2013

    From the delightful and crazy genius of Shel Silverstein comes t

    From the delightful and crazy genius of Shel Silverstein comes this wacky collection of poems and drawings. I doubt there has ever been or ever will be another poet that can move audiences the way that he can.

    Call me crazy, but I was not expecting this book to be so funny. Weird, yes. But funny? You should know that I laughed the whole way through. So did my kids.

    Silverstein's writing is impeccable. His lines flow off the tongue with ease and captivate children and grown ups alike. Often, rhyming books and poetry lack an ease of reading out loud. But the poems in Everything On It rhyme perfectly and flow smoothly, making them easy and fun to read.

    Just like his writing, Silverstein's black and white drawings are entertaining and engaging. Often, the picture works with the writing to tell the entire story. His style is easily loved by children. I think that this is because his artwork looks a lot like something a child would draw. They relate to art that looks like it belongs in their world.

    Silverstein is a kid that never really grew up. His poems encompass a wide range of crazy subjects including oddly shaped heads, cheating in school, strange salesmen, and obscure shops. The one subject I noticed pop up more than any other was cannibalism. If that is a subject that bothers you, then you probably shouldn't read it. There are monsters, man eating plants, child eating horses, and people eating giants to be found in the pages of this book. If you enjoy the wacky and the weird and are ready to find a book full of laughs, then this is the one for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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