(Saturday Review, November 30, 1974.)
by William Cole
This book has finally shown up after having been postponed for the past two seasons because of the author's search for perfection. Classic children's books don't come along each season, but this book is one. Shel Silverstein is a creative man of many talents: Playboy cartoonist, author/artist of The Giving Tree, singer, composer of "A Boy Named Sue" and other hit songs. There are skillful, sometimes grotesque line drawings with each of the 127 poems, which run in length from a few lines to a couple of pages. The poems are tender, funny, sentimental, philosophical, and ridiculous in turn, and they're for all ages, including mine. There are occasional indelicacies, which are surprising to find in a children's book, such as an anti-nose-picking poem and one about belching--but that's life. Here's "Thumbs," which will give some parents the shudders: "Oh the thumbsucker's thumb/May look wrinkled and wet/And withered, and white as the snow/But the taste of a thumb/Is the sweetest taste yet/(As only we thumbsuckers know)." I admit without the slightest qualm that the author is a friend, that I've used his poems in a dozen of my anthologies, and that I'm thanked in the book for my "continued encouragement."