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Review of Every Thing on It

Every Thing on It
by Shel Silverstein; illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate     Harper/HarperCollins     202 pp.
9/11      978-0-06-199816-4      $19.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-199817-1      $20.89

Posthumously published works are sometimes weak, but this collection of 140-plus poems is every bit as good as Silverstein’s earlier poetry collections, beginning with the now-classic Where the Sidewalk Ends (rev. 4/75). From the poem whose illustration graces the cover — in which a doleful-looking person holds a hotdog with everything on it, including “a parrot, / A bee in a bonnet,” and other items piled high — to a final poem that invites the reader to write his or her own, the book is not just laugh-out-loud funny but demands to be read aloud to any available parents, siblings, and friends. As always, the drawings add immeasurably to the entertainment and often provide the punch line, as in the poem about boots that are “a little too big,” shown in the picture as a pair of giant boots with just a tiny bit of a person’s head peeking out, capped by a very large cowboy hat. The poems’ style varies — the collection has its share of the slightly creepy, the slightly naughty, and the slightly gross (see “Mistake”) and also includes some poignant or thoughtful poems, such as one about a witch who can no longer remember how to cast spells. Silverstein’s most recent book was the amusing but fluffy Runny Babbit (rev. 5/05); this one, however, has depth, heart, and humor.

From the September/October 2011 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Susan Dove Lempke About Susan Dove Lempke

Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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