Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein
Photo Credit: Larry Moyer

We've lost one of the good guys in the battle to respect the natural intelligence and humor of kids. Shel Silverstein was a cartoonist, singer, songwriter, and playwright. But to me and millions of children, he was most importantly a p t -- a p t smart enough and funny enough to have remained the best part of a kid all his life.

He was also a guy who knew a lot of good stuff -- like how to bathe an armadillo (one bar of soap, a whole lot of hope, and seventy-two pads of Brillo), the recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich, and the fact that "inside everybody's nose, there lives a sharp toothed snail. So if you stick your finger in, he may bite off your nail."

Now in our world gone crazy for standards and testing, this is not the kind of intelligence that will win you many official honors or awards. It's more often the kind of thing that will compel serious-minded adults to attach adjectives like "zany," "wacky," and "irreverent" to your name. But it is precisely the deep wisdom that will speak to kids (and those smart enough to remember their essential "kidness") forever.Where the Sidewalk Ends

The good news is that Shel is still with us, in his p ms and drawings. And as usual, he probably put it best, how and where to find him:

"Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children they mark, and the children they know
The place where the sidewalk ends."

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