A Light in the Attic

( 117 )

Overview

Last night while I lay thinking here
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
...

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Overview

Last night while I lay thinking here
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?...

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

From the creator of the beloved poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up, here is another wondrous book of poems and drawings.

A collection of humorous poems and drawings.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
It's hard to imagine a world without A Light in the Attic. This now-classic collection of poetry and drawings from Shel Silverstein celebrates its 20th anniversary with this special edition. Silverstein's humorous and creative verse can amuse the dowdiest of readers. Lemon-faced adults and fidgety kids sit still and read these rhythmic words and laugh and smile and love that Silverstein. Need proof of his genius?
Rockabye

Rockabye baby, in the treetop
Don't you know a treetop
Is no safe place to rock?
And who put you up there,
And your cradle, too?
Baby, I think someone down here's
Got it in for you.

Shel, you never sounded so good.
Children's Literature
Most of us grew up listening to our teachers or our parents reading to us from Shel Silverstein's poetry collections A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, or The Giving Tree and loved every humorous moment of them. The only thing better than listening was to hear them and look at the illustrations Silverstein provided for each poem. In this 20th anniversary edition of A Light in the Attic, a new generation of readers is provided the additional joy of listening to Silverstein read—with great enthusiasm—eleven of his personal favorites from the collection. From the woes of homework to the practicalities of the best way to get out of doing the dishes; from the joy of imagining oneself in a rock and roll band to the amazing abilities of the Twistable, Turnable Man; young and "young-at-heart" readers alike will find themselves laughing at or nodding with the charming characters found in Silverstein's poetry. This collection has been and continues to be a "must-use" book for teachers working with students of any age to encourage or reinforce a love of poetry. 2001 (orig. 1981), HarperCollins, $22.95 and $17.89. Ages All. Reviewer: Jean Boreen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060256739
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/1981
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 26,928
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.94 (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.

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.

Biography

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

Read an Excerpt

Prayer of the Selfish Child

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break.
So none of the other kids can use 'em. . . .
Amen.

From A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC by Shel Silverstein © 1981 by Shel Silverstein. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 117 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(79)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 117 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    gift for beginning reader

    I bought this book for a relative in first grade who had just started to read. I figured that most of the poems would be above her reading level, but they would be fun to listen to and would inspire her to learn to read them herself. It was received with great enthusiasm.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2008

    review

    I think a light in the attic is a great poetry book and Shel Silverstein is an awesome poet. His books are great for kids and really bring out your imagination. Shel¿s poems have many lessons in them but he shows them in a funny ways. For example in the poem ladies first there is a little girl that wants to be first at every thing then every one gets kidnapped and is going to be eaten by a cannibal named Fry-em up Dan and the little girl runs up and says ladies first. The lesson in this poem is to not always want to be first. My favorite poem is ¿Homework Machine¿ I think its funny how the kids spend so much time making a machine and when they try it doesn¿t work I think his illustrations go great with his poems. His illustrations show the funny things you would think of after reading his poem, for example in the poem ¿Wild Strawberries¿ his picture has a strawberry with big pointy teeth. I think A Light in the Attic and all the rest of Shel¿s poetry books and would recommend them to everybody.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2008

    A Light in the Attic

    A Light in the Attic is a great poetry book for young kids. It has great pictures to help young readers understand the poem. Poems by Shel Silverstein portray hidden messages and tell great stories. She uses a lot of ironic, clever ideas to describe what is happening in his poems. A good example of this is a poem called ¿Hammock¿ that tells the reader how a boy¿s grandma sends him a hammock and the good lord sends the breeze, but he only has on tree. The poem ¿Stop Thief¿ he uses the title of the poem so literally in the illustration about the poem. The picture shows amazed when somebody stole his knees, but he can¿t chase the guy who stole hi knees because he¿s afraid hi feet and legs just won¿t connect. The poem ¿Surprise¿ is about everywhere his grandpa goes he sends a different animal. Like his grandpa goes to Myrtle Beach and the boy gets a turtle. My favorite poem is called ¿Hiccup Cure¿ I like this poem because it says you have to do all this crazy stuff to get rid of the hiccups. When the person is done telling him what to do he still has the hiccups. While reading this poem I made a connection because I know a lot of people that get the hiccups and they bug them so much. I think kids will like this book even more if they have to do a report on it. All of Shel¿s books are so hard to put down because you get so hooked on the first poem you just keep reading and reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    I purchased this book for my 9 year old grand-daughter. She loves poetry, and this is the 2nd book by Shel Silverstein that she owns.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

     Shel Silverstein is the best poem writer I have ever read.If yo

     Shel Silverstein is the best poem writer I have ever read.If you read
     A Light in the Attic you will just want to keep on reading.
    Not only does he have a way with words but also with pictures. His pictures are all had drawn with just a pencil and go with the poems.
     A lot of his poems connected to me and my experiences in life, but are also very fun and interesting to read.    

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  • Posted December 14, 2013

    So many of these I don't remember. But remember reading all the

    So many of these I don't remember. But remember reading all the same. Good read.

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  • Posted July 7, 2013

    Wonderful poems. Short structure with deep impact. This poem is

    Wonderful poems. Short structure with deep impact. This poem is good for reading to the children.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Ever pleasing

    I first gave one of Shel Silverstein's books of goofy kid poems to my young nieces many years ago. What I liked about the poems was they often featured a bit of sedition, about kids that wanted to eat the wrong food or run away from home or pick their nose, etc. Other poems were about goofy people. Others were just silly or absurdist. Kids love this stuff! Now I am working on the next generation and I give these books to the children of nieces, etc. The books continue to be big hits. Read the poems to/with kids, and just listen to the squeals.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    A great classroom book.

    I remember my teachers in school reading story after story from this book from preschool all the way up until middle school. Some of my fondest elementary school memories are from this book. Everyone can find a story that they can relate to in this book. It is a treasure to have around and definitley worth passing down to the younger generations.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Awesome book!! You should read it too.

    A Light in the Attic is the first poetry book I ever read. I really enjoyed it!! All the poems were full of expression and very, very thoughtful! Shel Silverstein is not only a great writer but also a great cartoonist, the book is full of amazing and very funny drawings. It was very difficult to decide which poem was my favorite, I seemed to love them all. Kids my age(8)should never miss a book like that.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Super Awesome and Fun!

    The poems of A Light in the Attic are a lot of fun. Some of them are laugh-outlout funny. My favorite poem is "Shaking" because it is about making a milkshake by shaking a cow. I think kids and adults of all ages would really love this fun poetry collection.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Highly Recommended - Loved it

    If you have to read poetry book then read A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. It is funny, hilarious and different. It is like reading a joke book but in poetry. Each poem in the book tells a story or a point but with a funny twist to it. Like the babysitter who thinks she has to sit upon a baby. Another poem is Prayer for a Selfish Child where the author changes a nightly prayer to that of a selfish child praying for his toys to break so he doesn't have to share with others. My favorite poem is Turtle. It is about a turtle that doesn't eat and doest move. I won't say the end or why but you will definitely laugh. So if you want to laugh and think and have to read a poetry book this is your answer.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    You must read this book! Great for all ages.

    A Light in the Attic Book Review

    I really like this book for many reasons. It was funny because the author sometimes used words that are not in the dictionary. The author exaggerates when he writes the poems and makes them sound silly. I also liked it because he used words like "Exactlywatt" and "GooLoo". Reading some of the poems makes you imagine and wonder if it did happen or could happen. Some of the poems do not make sense, like " missing your knees" or "having green chest hair". My favorite poem was "How not to have to dry the dishes" it rhymes in a creative way. I recommend this poem book to everyone of all ages.

    Hope you like it!

    Emily Billoch

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Daniel

    I think that book is funny and understandable for children. I think that Shel Silverstein is one of the best authors for children's poems. The poems always made me want to keep reading. The book also made me want to read more of his books. Everytime I am bored I always read those poems. My favorite poem is somethings missing. I like it because the funny part is that he has no underwear that's what I like

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

    highly recommended for children

    I thought the poetry book A Light in the Attic was funny. It was funny because of the words and actions, and I really liked that some poems rhymed a little. The poem Something Missing is about a boy that thinks he is ready but forgets his pants at home. I learned to never forget anything at home and to always double check everything. For sure I will never forget my pants at home.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    A Great Book for Everyone

    I love this book and I enjoyed reading it. My favorite poem was Spelling Bee. I think it is funny. I liked the drawings, specially the Spelling Bee one. The book was great and funny. There were all kinds of poems in the book. Another poem that I really liked was Stop Thief because it said someone stole his knees which is impossible. I do recommend that you buy this book and keep it safe, so you can read it whenever you want.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    I like it!

    I read A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein. I am 8 years old and I liked the book a lot. It was funny and very interesting. The poems were short and with lots of illustrations. All the poems were very good. There were some that I did not understand at the beginning but then I was able to understand them. I enjoyed this book and I thank my teacher for asking us to read poetry.

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  • Posted May 29, 2011

    Very funny, enthusiastic book to read

    A light in the Attic takes children to an adventurous new world. It helps kids to understand the meaning of the word Poem. It also helps children to learn how to rhyme word by word. Every poem has a different kind of theme for kids. My favorite part of the book is learning new words. When a new word came to my mind from the book, I was so intrigued to find out what the meaning was so I can understand the poem.

    I love the book and I hope others that read it likes it too.

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  • Posted June 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Favorite

    This has always been one of my favorite "children's" books. I really don't think that it's just for kids. Grown-ups can enjoy it too. Personally, highly recommended more than the other two in the series.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    For grown-ups too!

    I actually bought this book for my fiance. He had mentioned liking it as a child and it was a pleasant surprise for him on Christmas. It's a classic and a book we'll save to give to our kids one day.

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