HarperCollins Children's Books has announced thefall 2011 release of a collection of never-before published Shel Silversteinpoems and illustrations. Not yet titled, the book will share the same format asthe late author's previous poetry collections, Where the Sidewalk Ends, ALight in the Attic, and Falling Up.These and other children's books by Silverstein, who died in 1999, have soldmore than 25 million hardcover copies in the U.S. alone and have been translatedinto more than 30 languages.
Senior executive editor Antonia Markiet beganworking with the author in the 1970s, after his editor Edite Kroll, who nowhandles foreign rights for Silverstein's estate, left the company (then Harper& Row). Kroll had become Silverstein's editor when Ursula Nordstrom, whoinitially discovered his work in Playboy,retired in 1973. Markiet, who edited 2005's RunnyBabbit, Silverstein's first posthumously published book, is currentlyworking with Silverstein's family to select poetry and artwork for the newcollection, which she says "will contain between 120 and 130 poems, in linewith Shel's previous three poetry collections."
Given the author's creativity and output, thereis no dearth of material. "Every time Shel did a collection, he had more materialthan could fit in one book, so he'd put aside the extra material and take itout when he began another book, and would again end up with more than he couldpossibly use," Markiet recalls. Twelve previously unpublished poems wereincluded in HarperCollins' 2004 30th-anniversary edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, and another 12in A Light in the Attic Special Edition,released last fall.
"There is a wealth of material in the archives,and so many fans still write to us and to Shel's family saying how importanthis work is to them, that the family decided it was the right time to consideranother book from that material," says Markiet of the new anthology. Sheexplains that the Silverstein family is carefully considering all the work inthe poet's archives to compile the collection, along with members of theHarperCollins staff.
"We've just started the process, so this is verynew," she says. "We're talking about the poems, and reading them aloud to eachother. And we're looking at visuals. Shel had already created boards for somespreads, so our direction is clear. We're all enjoying it immensely and arevery excited to be able to have this opportunity."
And the new project has obviously stirred upfond memories of working with Silverstein decades ago. "When I began workingwith Shel, I was quite young and shy, and he was always very kind to me," Markietrecalls. "That man was such a perfectionist—in the best way possible. He workedso hard, changing a line here, trying a different word there. It always had tobe exactly right. He knew that a poem had to work in two ways: when childrenread it to themselves and when it was read aloud. I learned a lot from him."