Where the Sidewalk Ends

I recently bought a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein, for my son. He’s 4 and he loves to rhyme so when I saw the book I thought he’d love it.

He does.

You know what? I love it even more.

I remember seeing the book around but it didn’t come out until I was finishing high school, so I never read it.

Reading it out loud to my son makes me remember reading other poems as a child and the joy of words spoken aloud just to hear how they sound.

When I opened the book to read to my son, I came to a poem called “Joey.” Read these lines aloud (about how Joey knocked down the sun) and see what you think:

And whoosh! it swizzled

Down so hard.

And bloomp! it bounced

In his backyard.

And glunk! it landed
On his toe!”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I love the silliness of the poems but I don’t think, as a child, I would have appreciated that silliness, as I was a more serious child. But now I love the silliness and the alliteration and the onomatopoeia.

I have tried to write poetry many times over the years, and enjoyed the attempt, but never wrote anything I thought was worth much. But reading from Where the Sidewalk Ends reminds of the epic poem my brother and I wrote about a school cafeteria food fight, and the spoof I wrote, in verse, of the place I waited tables while I was in college. The restaurant (lounge and bar) was called Pete’s Dream and, of course, my spoof was Pete’s Nightmare.

I think I might start writing poetry again, if only as a creative exercise. And allow it to be silly, as silly as I can make it. That sounds like fun to me. Unlike a poem I wrote many years ago that was cathartic, but not really any fun. You can read it here on my website if you’d like.

I’m also wondering what other children’s poems I might like. I’ll have to go on a hunt, especially as my son asks me to read from Where the Sidewalk Ends all the time. I bet he’d like some other children’s poetry.

Do you read poetry? Who are your favorite poets, especially children’s poets? Please share in the comments.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon, MD: is a writer, blogger, life coach, physician, mother, and stepmother. I’m excited to tell you that I’ll be hosting a one-day writing retreat in September for 12 fellow writers who’d like to spend a day writing together in a comfortable setting. It’ll be structure writing time, a little time to discuss craft, and a whole lot of coffee! Click here to find out more information.



25 thoughts on “Where the Sidewalk Ends

  1. I love Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic poetry collection. I bought it for me because his poems make me feel that sense of creativity and silliness that I felt when I was five. Everyone needs to feel five now and then. I also love the rhyme and rhythm in Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabelle Lee, The Raven, and The Bells. Also, I read your poetry. It reads really well like a narrative. The repetition works with the “Stupid Girl” at the end of each stanza. Such a dark theme but I felt it hooked into it from beginning to end. I feel like it belongs in a story like, Speak by Lois Lowry. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Great comments – I admit to looking up what alliteration and onomatopoeia mean for the first time in years. Glad I did, you make great points and I think I’ll do some poems for the fun of it. Many of us writers get so focused on writing larger pieces; it is good to start small and get the creative juices flowing.

  3. Great post! I find I’m always making up rhymes or spoofs on songs with my kids – word play is such a great way to get them laughing and learning. I decided to stretch my writerly muscles with some rhyming texts this spring and joined RhyPiBoMo on facebook for tips. You will find lots of great suggestions there!

  4. You can’t be that old – it was published in 1974. My mom bought all of his books about the time they were published so I grew up reading his works. And of course I knew every word Of “Cover of the Rolling Stone” within minutes of it being released.

  5. One of my all time favorite books by one of my all time favorite poets. 🙂 You should definitely write more poetry! Give it a shot – it doesn’t have to follow any rules or rhymes (though if you do want it to rhyme, I highly recommend http://www.rhymezone.com for a good online rhyming dictionary). It just has to have feeling. 🙂

  6. My kids like to read Mattie Stepanek’s poetry – Heartsongs. Sad story, beautiful soul. They love silly stuff too, but this poetry is written by a child, and it inspires them to think creatively and appreciate what they have (sometimes….). Enjoy!

  7. I had not heard of Silverstein, maybe he just whisked by in England. Or I was just at the wrong age. Any way, I have purchased the book, I will pretend it’s for my grandson.

  8. My favorite poem is by Shel Silverstein. It’s called The Peanut Butter King. I think I like it so much because I remember hearing it read aloud in my 2nd grade class, and thinking of how silly it was, especially because of how my teacher read it. What made it even better was that it involved a king, a kingdom, creatures, and of course peanut butter, which is one of my favorite foods! (:

  9. I loved your post! That is the perfect age to develop a love for words, reading, and expression! If you don’t have it, get Eric Carle’s Dragons, Dragons. I have read this book a thousand times to my kids! They never tire of the sounds and the crazy creatures and the beautiful colors! A real treasure!

  10. I stumbled onto Where the Sidewalk Ends at my daughter’s house, and wondered where it had been all my life. It was truly a pleasant read. Thanks for the reminder, I need to borrow it from her!

  11. I love the Silverstein books. They were always one of my favorite books. But, my first love was the Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker. My grandmother had a set of them and I read them over and over again as a kid. They are cute and funny.

  12. The following poem by SS is from the book FALLING UP. My six year old daughter fell in love with it and wrote it (in her wonky handwriting) on taped together pieces of paper. It still hangs on her wall some five years later. Once you go Shel, you never go back!

    Falling Up

    I tripped on my shoelace

    And I fell up—

    Up to the roof tops,

    Up over the town,

    Up past the tree tops,

    Up over the mountains,

    Up where the colors

    Blend into the sounds.

    But it got me so dizzy

    When I looked around,

    I got sick to my stomach

    And I threw down.

    ~Shel Silverstein (From FALLING UP)

  13. We had this book given to us by an American friend last year. We had never heard of him until then. My kids loved it and we even bought a second copy to give to their school. My son loves one about the baby sitter who takes her job literally!

  14. I think Shel Silverstein thought about the child in each of us when he wrote his poems. I bought his books to read to my students but I enjoyed them the most. They noticed and some told me later that those poems inspired them to write. I love The Giving Tree. Truly a reason for “writing to live” and for reading for life.

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