Shel Silverstein – anything can be
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
I only discovered Shel Silverstein a few years ago…
I can only blame it on not having grown up in an English-speaking country. But maybe his work also came after I had left childhood. What I love about his work is the sheer absurdity, the hilarious drawings and the rhyme, ramble and nonsense.
It is liberating in a way; children’s tales and stories with no stupid moral undertone. Hurray for imagination running riot. And though it is wildly, deliciously absurd, he does not shy away from difficult subjects. Intelligently, humorously done.
His work also does this magic thing: words and drawings in balance. This is the mark of excellent illustrations (as opposed to drawings or pure images). The text adds to the illustrations, the illustrations adds to the text. His work also seems effortless, spontaneous. That is really, really hard to achieve; minimalism and simplicity is never simple, it is among the hardest things to achieve.
And how can you not love titles like A giraffe and a half, where the sidewalk ends, falling up, a light in the attic?
We can’t find the cat,
we don’t know where she’s at,
Oh, where did she go?
Does anyone know?
Let’s ask this walking hat.
I have a couple of other posts on children’s books here.
Some of his books: