Friday, March 14, 2014

[BOOK REVIEW] A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Title:  A Light in the Attic

Author:  Shel Silverstein

Genre: Poetry / Comedy / Children

Year Published: 1981

Year Read:  2009

Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 6+ (Some Suggestive Themes and Death)

Buy on:  Amazon  //  Book Depository 

 “A Light in the Attic” is one of Shel Silverstein’s best yet most controversial books of poems ever written.  This book is full of poems about clowns, pirates, monsters and all manner of strange people and animals doing crazy things.  “A Light in the Attic” may be too suggestive and morbid for smaller children, but older children will easily delight themselves with the silly shenanigans of the characters.

Shel Silverstein’s writing is as witty as it is funny as he writes each character’s stories in a poetic prose.  One of the funniest poems I have read was “Squishy Touch” when the main character turns everything into Jell-O.  Shel Silverstein’s illustrations are highly creative as the images make the characters look scratchy and also I love the images being presented in black and white colors, a technique that is usually used for long books.  The image that probably stood out the most was the image of the Gink as it has a large mouth with sharp teeth and the image of the kids coming out of the Gink on the next page.

Parents should know that there are some suggestive and morbid content in this book that young children might not understand.  One poem that might be too suggestive for children would be the poem “How not to have to dry the dishes” as it entices children to break the dishes in order not to dry them.  Another poem that might be too morbid for children would be “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony” as it deals with the death of a child and parents might want to explain to their children about the concept of death before they read this poem.

“A Light in the Attic” is an excellent book about silly poems about silly people who do crazy stunts and it will surely be an instant for many children young and old.  I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since smaller children might be a bit disturbed by the suggestive and morbid content displayed in this book.

* 1984 George C. Stone Center for Children's Books Recognition of Merit Award
* 1985 Vlag en Wimpel (van de Griffeljury)
* 1988 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee
* School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
* Garden State Children's Book Awards

* American Library Association (ALA) Notable Book
* William Allen White Award (Kansas)

REASON FOR BEING BANNED: The poem "How Not to Have To Dry the Dishes" was criticized for encouraging kids to be messy and disobedient, while the poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony" was criticized for describing the death of a girl after her parents refused to buy her a pony. Also for discussing supernatural themes such as demons, devils and ghosts.


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