Shel Silverstein is a perfect example of how kids are actually able to distinguish between reality and fiction — when Shel Silverstein writes a poem about a child dying because they didn’t get the pet they wanted, even little kids realize it’s a joke. It just happens to be a joke that also crystallizes how their experience at the time!
My first exposure to the work of Shel Silverstein was through the songs of Dr Hook. Each Sunday in our house was the day that my Dad got to take over the record player and in amongst the repetitious playing of Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan there would be thrown some Dr Hook. Mum was really glad of the reprieve from the rumbling tones of Dylan’s voice (she’s not a fan) and so their Dr Hook’s Greatest Hits tape got played a lot! I didn’t know it at the time but many of my favourite songs on that album were written by Shel Silverstein- Sylvia’s Mother, The Cover of the Rolling Stone, The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. As a child I didn’t really understand the nuances of meaning in that last song but now as an adult I just find the mix of sadness and beauty to be breathtaking.
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