Author: Shel Silverstein
Genre: Poetry / Comedy / Children
Year Published: 1974
Year Read: 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Content Rating: Ages 6+ (Death, Some Suggestive Themes and Some Rebellious Behavior)
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is another book of poems from the creative mind of Shel Silverstein, who is the popular author of “A Light in the Attic.” This book details poems about silly people and animals doing crazy activities. Even though this book has some suggestive content, children will easily be delighted in this book for many years.
Shel Silverstein has done an awesome job with both illustrating and writing this book of poems. Shel Silverstein’s writing is witty and creative as uses bizarre creatures and humans to summarize each poem in a humorous way. The poem that I thought stood out the most was the poem about Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who refused to take the garbage out and meets a grisly end (even though he never mentions what happened to her) and that poem expresses the moral that it is important to take the garbage out when it is needed and how one must listen to their parents when doing chores. Shel Silverstein’s illustrations are hilarious and crude as he illustrates each character with long limbs and exaggerated expressions and I also love the way that Shel Silverstein puts the illustrations in black and white format which is mostly found in chapters books for both children and adults.
Parents should know that there is a great deal of suggestive content in this book mainly revolving around the topic of morbid humor and the topic of God. The two poems that might be the most controversial would be “Ma and God” and “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout would not take the Garbage Out.” In “Ma and God,” the poem talks about how Ma always tells her child to not do bad things, even though God has created the bad things for the child to do. For instance, one passage mentions that mother tells their children to eat their vegetables, but God creates sweets for children to eat. This poem might give children the wrong message about God and parents might want to teach their children about religion before they read them this poem. In “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout would not take the Garbage out,” the garbage overflows the house and eventually the city when Sarah refused to take the garbage out. This poem might worry small children who think that if the garbage overflows their house, then they will meet a tragic fate too. However, the poem merely tries to teach children to obey their parents and parents should try to comfort their children about this poem and the importance of taking the trash out.
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is another great classic book of poems from Shel Silverstein and it will surely help engage children into the world of poetry. I would recommend this book for children ages six and up due to the suggestive themes of God and some morbid humor that younger children might not understand.
* 1976 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee
* 1984 George C. Stone Center for Children's Books Recognition of Merit Award
* 1996 Golden Archer Award for Intermediate
REASON FOR BEING BANNED: For promoting drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth and authority and rebellion against parents. Also, for the poem "Dreaded" over the line "someone ate the baby" as they feared it might encourage cannibalism.