Author: Shel Silverstein
Type: Fiction, poetry
I read it: December 2013 (re-read)
I remember in 4th grade I got selected to be the one to say “a liar” as part of a group read-along to “Invitation,” the opening poem of this collection. (Perhaps I came off as sneaky or sly…I dunno, but the teacher liked my version of those two words.) That poem still comes off as a magical gateway into a crazy yet tangible world. I remembered the poems (and the one-of-a-kind drawings) as I read them, instantly recalling the girl who eats the whole whale, the guy with a head growing out of his head, or the king and his peanut butter sandwich. I distinctly remember sketching the titular creature of “The Razor-Tailed Wren” as a youth. There is an army of original ideas in here (including a tale of two army generals) and some send-ups of classic myths like the unicorns missing the ark, Paul Bunyan, and Captain Hook.
This time around, I read all the poems out loud to my infant son (it was a gift for his baby shower, after all). I think he appreciated the rhythms, although he probably just reacted to my voice and my excitement over the material. I can’t wait for him to be old enough to actually enjoy the book. I hope he recites his favorite poems and writes and colors all over the pages. This is the best kind of classic, and even an old fart like me got excited to see the handful of new poems in this 30th Anniversary Edition. Lovely.