Falling Up

Shel Silverstein, Author
Shel Silverstein, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.99 (184p) ISBN 978-0-06-024802-4
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-0-06-024803-1
Hardcover - 179 pages - 978-957-8246-51-5
Hardcover - 171 pages - 978-7-5442-3557-0
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All the things that children loved about A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends can be found in abundance in this eclectic volume, Silverstein's first book of poetry in 20 years. By turns cheeky and clever and often darkly subversive, the poems are vintage Silverstein, presented in a black-and-white format that duplicates his earlier books. Like Roald Dahl, Silverstein's cartoons and poems are humorously seditious, often giving voice to a child's desire to be empowered or to retaliate for perceived injustice: one child character wields a ""Remote-a-Dad"" that will instantly control his father, and another dreams of his teachers becoming his students so that when they talk or laugh in class, he can ""pinch 'em 'til they [cry]."" The poems focus on the unexpected-a piglet receives a ""people-back ride"" and Medusa's snake-hair argues about whether to be coifed in cornrows or bangs. Sometimes the art traffics in gross-out, as when William Tell gets an arrow through his forehead or a cartoon character sticks carrots in his sockets because he's heard that carrots are good for his eyes. Although some parents and teachers may cringe at such touches, Silverstein's anti-establishment humor percolates as he lampoons conventions (the stork not only brings babies but ""comes and gets the older folks/ When it's their time to go""), or discards decorum (a small gardener zips up his pants after watering the plants ""that way""). No matter that the author's rhythms and rhymes can be sloppy, or that his annoying insistence on leavin' off the endin' to his ING's seems artificially folksy, Silverstein's ability to see the world from, as he says, ""a different angle"" will undoubtedly earn this book a wide audience. All ages. (May)
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