Where the Sidewalk Ends & Falling Up

and Contemporary
This edition printed in: ,

A tabby cat sits on an unmade bed beside two books by Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up.

That Strange In-Between Week

This year the week in between Christmas and New Year’s has been particularly strange to me. Maybe it’s how busy we’ve been, but work feels very weird, even though I know that there are a solid three or four days when a lot of people are in the office and I should by no means expect not to tackle work emails those days. Over Christmas, both myself and my lovely spouse got some much needed sleep and rest — but that just pointed out how far behind we both still are when it comes to both of these things.

My head still feels in a whirl from all the preparations we had to finish and just how long we’ve been preparing for the holidays. It just seems to so abrupt that Christmas is over and soon New Year’s Day will behind us too, even if this is the way it goes every year. However, I am excited to begin work on our various resolutions and our attempt to keep our schedule mostly empty for January.

A tabby cats sits on a bed beside Where the Sidewalk Ends, which features a picture of two people and a dog looking over the edge of a protruding sidewalk.

The Power of Rhymes

There’s something very comforting to me about children’s books that rhyme. I grew up with Dr Suess and Mother Goose and I was read to before bed every night. It was rhyming stories that rocked me to sleep and it was rhyme that I first learned to read before I was formally taught to. But Shel Silverstein wasn’t something I encountered as a child. I had friends that mentioned Where the Sidewalk Ends but I didn’t own a copy of it until my lovely spouse bought me a copy of it and Falling Up from our local independent bookstore.

A tabby cat sits on a bed looking at a copy of Falling Up — which features a drawing of a child falling upwards into the sky.

Silverstein’s rhymes are beautifully simple. Easy to remember, easy to read, they roll through your brain delightfully and provide a treat for all your little grey cells. I read through both books in the span of an afternoon between heavier works that I needed a bit of a breather from.

A tabby cat sits between Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up — both oversized books and illustrated.

The Illustrations

Neither of these books would be the same without the drawings that accompany them. Silverstein has wonderfully illustrated each poem with art that is reflective of his style of writing. Simple, cartoonish line drawings that are done expertly and match the tone of the poetry precisely. It’s amazing how well an entire story can be portrayed in just the simple drawing of a tail or a few lines.

A picture of a child holding a sign with 'V' on it. Beside it is the poem 'Love' by Shel Silverstein.

That being said, I love that Harper Collins decided to publish hardcover editions that are a size which allow the drawings their proper space to breathe around the text and to highlight them more effectively.

A tabby sits beside an open book. The book's illustration shows Medusa frowning as she holds a comb and a brush. Her snake hair is happy.

The Test of Time

These poems were published nearly thirty years ago (make that nearly fifty years ago in the case of Where the Sidewalk Ends), and as such there are certain ones that haven’t quite withstood the test of time. Mostly because they are a bit dark for the age range we would modernly consider these books appropriate for.

However, that doesn’t mean the bulk of them can’t be enjoyed just as much as they were all of those years and a generation ago. But I do think that these books are probably enjoyed most by older children, not younger ones. Of course, I think adults will find them both highly enjoyable and highly nostalgic.

A tabby cat sits on an unmade bed beside two books by Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up.

Happy New Year!

I wish everyone a very happy and book filled New Year! I’ve been sorting through my stacks and making plans for the next few months of posts including Black History Month and Women’s History Month. My year-end wrap-up made me realize that I want to study more non-fiction next year and maybe some shorter books. There’s no denying that my to-read stacks are pretty out of control and I need — really need — to get a lot pickier about what recommendations I take and what books I decide to spend time on.

I don’t have infinite time or infinite space or anywhere near an infinite budget.

The spines of two books are shown: Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up.

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