Is This How Hollywood Thinks? Really?
Censorship in Oz

A Tale for Poetry Friday

I was volunteering at the school library today when a wide-eyed fifth-grade girl ran in and breathlessly asked the librarian for Where the Sidewalk Ends. Pointed in the right direction, she dashed over to the 811's, exclaiming, "I need it for my buddy class." (Fifth graders are paired up with "buddies" in kindergarten at Junior's school.) The drama of the moment impressed me as  I tried to imagine what sort of situation (and we all know there are plenty of situations in kindergarten) demanded to be remedied by Shel Silverstein's book of poems and drawings. Whatever it was, I admired the fifth-grader's ingenuity and taste.

The funny thing is that my six-year-old and I spent close to an hour (an hour!) reading Where the Sidewalk Ends yesterday. The 30th anniversary edition was one of my thrift-store finds last year, but I'd forgotten about it until I pulled it off the shelf last night. "Read another!" Junior kept saying. We'd laugh at one, then read some more. Except for the one on the soundtrack of "Free to Be You and Me," I didn't know these poems, either. When Silverstein titled one poem "Naked Hippo" and rhymed "Hippopotamus" and "bottomus," well, I think Junior found a new favorite book. Tonight after his bath he came into the room where I was working at the computer and asked me where "that funny poem book" was because he wanted to share it with his dad. He asked in a much less dramatic fashion than the fifth-grader, but clearly it was just the thing he needed,  too.

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Have fun with the Sidewalk, Susan! It's so much fun. ("Free to be You and Me" was also a childhood staple in my family, and one I was very suspicious of as a child. I still don't know why.)

Aww! You must read Hiccupotamus if you haven't already! Same rhyme, good time.

Kelly, I can see why you'd be suspicious of "Free to Be..." It's very message-y. I'd never heard it until someone gave it to Junior a few years ago, but I know a lot of adults who can sing along with the CD word by word. I wonder where our copy is...

Little Willow, oh, I'll have to look for Hiccupotamus. Thanks! Junior loves Roger Duvoisin's Veronica, which is also about a hippo and features pictures of prominent hippo bottoms.

My first and only book challenge came from a parent who wanted Shel off the shelf because of "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony." It was my first year as a school librarian. We managed to save Light in the Attic but it taught me a lot about parents and book banning.

I think that any day in which you have a kid who "needs" a particular book (especially a poetry book) is a good day. One of my nieces was a relatively reluctant reader, and the day that she dragged me to her room so that she could read aloud to me MANY of her favorite Shel Silverstein poems is a day that I'll always remember.

Camille, I just looked up "Abigail" today. Funny--and subversive. That must have been what got the parents!

Jen, that's so sweet about your niece. She wanted to share the fun!

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