Excerpt from In and Out
(New York Times Book Review, September 24, 1961.)
by Lew Nichols
Multiple Threat--If you're of the right age...define this as college age, or a bit beyond, or in spirit so--you will have been chuckling over something called "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book," part of which appeared in Playboy and all of which is now in book form. Unlike most alphabet books, this takes sides with the children (E is for Egg, and see if you can hit the ceiling with it) and is the work of Shel Silverstein. Mr. S is a full-blown type of Renaissance man--artist, cartoonist, poet, jazz singer, playwright, composer.
He comes from Chicago, entered the Renaissance world by way of Stars and Stripes in Japan and Korea. For the last four years he has been roving cartoonist for Playboy, last two with home base in New York, southwest corner of the Village. He has written thirty-five to forty songs, most but not all hillbilly, has a formal children's book coming out next year, at one time in Copenhagen played washboard with Papa Bue's Danish Viking New Orleans Jazz Band. All members of Papa Bue's bands had beards, as does Mr. Silverstein, and he was tempted to remain.
Uncle Shelby has a theory that children and elderly parties like to be treated as anyone else, not as children and elderly parties. Got the idea for the ABZ book while standing on a street corner licking an ice cream cone. Kid came along and looked at it wistfully. "Very good," remarked Uncle Shelby. "Why don't you ask your mother to get you one?" Kid got a cone, Uncle Shelby got a dirty look--and a book.