DO NOT READ THIS TO YOUR CHILDREN!
Part 1 of 237 (to date)
My Shel Silverstein obsession began in third grade, it was the late eighties and in those days checking out a book meant you had to sign your name on the index card pocketed behind the front cover then the book was yours to enjoy for 48 hours.
The first time I checked out Where the Sidewalk Ends there were a few other names at the top of the card which my sloppy signature quickly overran. Every two days I came back and resigned my name — for months, and when one card filled the librarian would replace it with a fresh piece of thick, lined manilla stock.
Nobody wagged a finger at me or told me to share. There were no analytics, metrics, or coefficients to prevent me from permanently reserving the book — but they noticed anyways.
So the librarians gave it to me, clear plastic safety wrap and all and I loved it every day for years. It wasn’t the first book I fell for (The Phantom Tollbooth), but WTSE was the first book that taught me that words were magic. That they had a rhythm and hum, but most importantly it was the first book to teach me about what said without saying — symbolism and allegory. I still use the lessons I got from Hector the Collector and Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout when I was 9, well, almost ten.
I never wanted to write a book for children, but for the last I don’t know how many years whenever I get stuck working on my novel or some other story grows unmanageable and looms — I write what I call Shellies to ease the tension. I’ve never shown them to anyone but I have collected quite a few over the years. They are little echoes of childhood laugh and gaff, but with show and tell for the grown up mind. Some of them are cute, others subversive, and a few downright disgusting. Here is 1 of the 237, I hope they are as pleasant a distraction for you as they are for me. Every time I write one, I’ll post one here. Don’t read it to your child, unless you want them to be awesome.
You can be anything you want
Do anything you choose
A doctor, Lawyer, Banker
A ship’s captain on a cruise
Perhaps an engineer
One with circuits or with gears
No? How about a dentist
I could really use veneers
My sweetest bestest child
You can have your pick
But remember when you’re choosing
It must be from my list