Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Giving Tree ain't just for losers with only trees for friends

Do you know who Shel Silverstein is?

You may know him as a playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, or illustrator. I guess you could call him a multi-faceted artist.

Did you also know that early on in his career he was a cartoonist for Playboy? And that he was a frequenter to Hugh's Playboy mansion? Well, I did a bit of research and found a book of those Playboy cartoons that is for sale. You *know* I"ll be buying it.

He also wrote A Boy Named Sue as a poem, which turned into Johnny Cash's hit song. Interesting enough, right?

And then he started writing and illustrating children's books. Huh.

I know him best as a poet.

I tell you this because the picture in yesterday's post was the cover of book The Giving Tree, which he wrote. I remember reading this book as a child and actually being brought to tears. It is truly moving.

When I was a child, we had two Shel Silverstein books of poems, A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends. Both books contained dozens of poems with wacky illustrations that you could get lost in for hours. Reading these was one of my favorite pastimes as a child. There were poems about girls who dove crazy dives only to find that there was no water in the pool, a kid with a messy bedroom, and purple people eaters... basically, every kids dream.

I want to share one of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems with you:

One Inch Tall

If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school.
The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.
A crumb of cake would be a feast
And last you seven days at least,
A flea would be a frightening beast
If you were one inch tall.

If you were only one inch tall, you'd walk beneath the door,
And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
A bit of fluff would be your bed,
You'd swing upon a spider's thread,
And wear a thimble on your head
If you were one inch tall.

You'd surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.
You couldn't hug your mama, you'd just have to hug her thumb.
You'd run from people's feet in fright,
To move a pen would take all night,
(This poem took fourteen years to write--
'Cause I'm just one inch tall).

Here's another that I just find cute and amusing:

As an adult the first thing that comes to mind is... ORGY??? Since he worked for Playboy, maybe I'm not that far off base?....

(See! I can't keep any of my posts from going there!)


  1. HA! You are a riot. Amazing he had such a colorful career, who knew?

  2. I didn't know that people were still unaware of Shel's career in Playboy...some of his PB writings were really fantastic!

  3. A bit of fluff would never be my bed, it would make me cough and bring on asthma.

  4. I should have mentioned this in my post, but my co-worker AMY is the one who informed me of Shel's infamous past... props to AMY!

  5. Thank you Sassy. I, for one, was completely unaware of Shel's previous career. I probably should have checked into him more since I've read most of his books to my kids (including the Giving Tree about 3 gazillion times!)

    No wonder I liked him..but he's not the one that drew the old grandma with the bowling pin boobs was he?

  6. Sniff sniff The Giving Tree is awesome.

  7. LOVE Shel Silverstein. This poem by him is my mantra:

    Put Something In

    Draw a crazy picture,
    Write a nutty poem,
    Sing a mumble-grumble song,
    Whistle through your comb.
    Do a loony-goony dance
    'Cross the kitchen floor,
    Put something silly in the world
    That ain't been there before.

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