Whenever I read a book of any kind, I am always intrigued by the author's dedication and acknowledgements. I wonder, who are these people, and what importance do they play in the author's work or life? So to indulge my curiosity–and possibly yours, too–here's a list of the people who have been deemed worthy of dedication by Shel Silverstein. As you can see, it is not yet complete. In order to achieve this, I will need your help.
Take Ten (1955)–dedicated to his grandmother. Unfortunately, no name is given, so I have no idea whether the grandmother is on his mother's or father's side.
Grab Your Socks (1956)–dedicated to Bob Sweeney, a fellow soldier and contributor to the Stars and Stripes. Sweeney wrote the foreword to Take Ten, published the year before.
Now Here's My Plan: A Book of Futilities(1960)–dedicated to Nathan and Helen Silverstein, Shel's parents.
Uncle Shelby's ABZ's: A Primer for Tender Young Minds (1961)–dedicated to Jean Shepherd, a disc jockey, sometime writer, and good friend of Silverstein's. They had both recorded albums for Elektra records. Shep, as he was commonly known, wrote the foreword for Now Here's My Plan.
Uncle Shelby's Story of Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back (1963)–dedicated to Robert Coseby, an English professor who taught Silverstein when he attended Roosevelt University in the early 1950s. Shel was also writing and drawing cartoons for the Torch, the monthly student paper, and Coseby's encouragement was, no doubt, key to setting Shel on the path he chose.
The Giving Tree (1964): dedicated to "Nicky". It turns out that this was one of Shel's old girlfriends (thanks to MM for the information). I'm actually surprised this book was not dedicated to Brennan Manning, the childhood friend of Silverstein's who later became a priest, and who allegedly asked him to define his idea of Jesus, thus giving rise to the start of the book.
Uncle Shelby's Zoo: Don't Bump the Glump!(1964):
A Giraffe and a Half (1964): no dedication.
Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?(1964, revised 1983):"to Meg and Curt". At first, I thought it may have been referring to Curt Dempster, who was the director of the Ensemble Studio Theater when the Rhinoceros was updated. However, I am almost certain that the dedication was, in fact, meant for Curtis and Meg Marshall, who were the aunt and uncle of Shanna, Shel's daughter. The Marshalls raised Shanna from the age of five--when her mother died--until her own death.
A Playboy's Teevie Jeebies (1963) and Teevee Jeebies: Do-It-Yourself Dialogue for the Late Late Show (1965):
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974): "to Ursula". That would be Silverstein's understanding, possibly long-suffering editor, the late Ursula Nordstrom. Considering that Sidewalk had been in the works since 1967–and actually had been due for publication at least 18 months before it actually arrived–I think long-suffering might be the right adjective...
The Missing Piece (1976): dedicated "to Gerry".
Different Dances (1979): dedicated "to Herb". Probably Herb Gardner, playwright of "A Thousand Clowns" and "Conversations With My Father" and screenwriter of "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying These Terrible Things About Me" and "Thieves", both of which were scored by Silverstein.
The acknowledgements read: "thanks to–Jonathan Dolger for the start, Win Knowlton for the chance, Edite Knoll for the hard work and encouragement. Lovingly designed by Ruth Bornschlagel." I would assume these people to be employees of (then) Harper & Row.
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O (1981): dedicated "to Joan", aka Joan Robins, one of Silverstein's editors at Harper & Row.
A Light In the Attic (1981): dedicated "to Shanna", short for Shoshanna, Shel's daughter, who died at age eleven in 1982. So unlike what I had thought, she was probably well aware that her father dedicated his most popular and beloved work to her.
The acknowledgements are as such: "For their help in the preparation of this book, my deepest thanks to Charlotte Zolotow, Joan Robins, Robert Warren, Jim Skofield and Glenise Butcher. And forever to Ursula Nordstrom. . . Book and jacket design by Kim Llewellyn" Zolotow was a fellow children's author at Harper & Row, while the rest all worked on the editorial side.
The back page credits his "brother-in-law, Chuck" (perhaps Charles Myers, husband of Silverstein's sister Peggy) for the inspiration for "Sour Face Ann", Abbott and Costello (famed comedy team, most notable for the routine "Who's on First) for "Meehoo and ExactlyWatt" and Pam Larsson for "Deaf Donald".
Falling Up (1996): dedicated "to Matt". This would be Matthew, Silverstein's son, who was fifteen at the time of Shel's death.
The back page thanks Joan Robins, Robert Warren, Patty Aitken, George Craig, and Kim Llewellyn. Warren was Shel's editor at HarperCollins after Ursula Nordstrom retired. Llewellyn, a freelance designer who began working with Shel in 1979, designed the layout for the book. Robins had worked at the publishing house for many years and was Nordstrom's protegee. Though she had recently retired, Shel asked her to work on the book.
As well, Silverstein thanks "the picking committee:
Sarah–almost certainly Matthew's mother.
Peg–Peggy Myers, Silverstein's sister
Herb–see dedication for "Different Dances"
Rebecca--possibly Rebecca Pidgeon, actress, singer and wife of David Mamet
Sam–likely Sam Hochman, a friend of Silverstein's
Edite–see acknowledgements of "Different Dances"