As a kid, this book was one of my all time favorites. I remember our librarian reading it a loud to us in third grade and thinking it was the most absurd, hilarious, entertaining book I had ever heard. Off the cuff characters so far removed from what we were use to in our usual picks from Judy Blume. Characters and images that would stick in my head forever: Cynthia Stout who refused to take the garbage out, the kid who sold his sister, the dirtiest man in the world. All odd, slightly perverse worlds where valid life lessons are buried in silly rhymes about misfits and mishaps. Dire mistakes and misjudgments inherit in all the overall plight of childhood.
I introduced the book to my boys this past Christmas. I couldn’t wait.
Naturally they were instant fans. Months later, it remains a top pick before bedtime. And I can’t deny that it doesn’t amuse me just a littler to see my middle son looking genuinely concerned hearing about Skinny Mcgee, the man who slips down the drain in the bathtub, or my youngest, growly seperatly disturbed by the idea of a worm up a nose that will bite any finger that gets close enough.
Shel Silverstein and his tales are not for everyone. In fact, he has always come with a fair share of controversy for being a celebrated child author. For instance, this article highlights some of the sentiments shared by critics:
“Where the Sidewalk Ends was yanked from the shelves of West Allis-West Milwaukee,Wisconsin school libraries in 1986 over fears that it “promotes drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for authority, and rebellion against parents.” Members of the Central Columbia School District in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania must have confused the year 1993 with 1393 when they objected to the poem Dreadful over the line “someone ate the baby” because they feared some of their more impressionable students might actually be encouraged to engage in cannibalism.”
I don’t know. It might be dark, and maybe it’s putting babies at risk of hungry brothers or instilling fear in the hearts of your average grade-school nosepickers, but we love it.
We’re up for the risk.
Anyone else care to share their own memories / thoughts on the book please do.