25 September 2010

Day 182: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  ISBN: 9780060291693.

Today is the start of Banned Book Week, and also Shel Silverstein's 80th birthday.  I'll be making two posts per day as I decided last minute to cover some of my favorite books as a child.  These were stories that I grew up with, that would not be available to other young readers if the censors had their way.

Shel Silverstein is a downright classic.  My brother and I read these poems over and over again when we were learning to read.  They were compelling in their silliness and snark.  I reveled in the irreverence, especially against authority figures, not necessarily because I wanted to duplicate them, but because it offered a means of vicarious enjoyment.  I couldn't rebel, but I could enjoy the idea of it.  Here's one of the poems I enjoyed that I think ties in well with the selfish prevention of someone else's reading pleasure:

I have nothing to put in my stew, you see,
Not a bone or a bean or a black-eyed pea,
So I'll just climb in the pot to see
If I can make a stew out of me.
I'll put in some pepper and salt and I'll sit
In the bubbling water--I won't scream a bit.
I'll sing while I simmer, I'll smile while I'm stewing,
I'll taste myself often to see how I'm doing.
I'll stir me around with this big wooden spoon
And serve myself up at a quarter to noon.
So bring out your stew bowls,
You gobblers and snackers.
Farewell--and I hope you enjoy me with crackers!

For anyone who has ever even thought about banning a book, you can take away my bones, my beans, and my black-eyed peas, but if you do I have two words for you, "Eat me."

Banned for suggestions of drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents.


  1. "disrespect for truth"?

    Hahahahahaha. Even if you ignored the philosophical implications of that statement, you'd still have to ban ALL FICTION ever forever in order to meet this standard. And a lot of non-fiction to boot.

  2. Children are born disrespecting truth. It's part of why they're so appealing. Surely I wasn't the only one who played the "What if the sky was made of..." game. Yet I don't see people going around banning children.

  3. Well, I have banned children from my own uterus, but not because they disrespect truth. Pretty much because they disrespect my pain threshold and sitting around time.

  4. I still say that's an awfully clever bit of literary analysis there.

  5. Dan, I somehow doubt that it was Silverstein's original intent for the poem to be about book banning per se. It would not surprise me if he was referring to the tendency for adults to say "no" to certain creative endeavors when they should be encouraging them and a child's propensity for knowing exactly how to best torment a parent. What could be worse to a parent then a child saying, "You won't let me learn how to cook, fine, I'll boil myself to death as soup and that'll learn you."

  6. My elementary school teachers actually taught this in their classroom. I still have several of his poems memorized.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...