We usually have a Featured Poet for Poetry Friday – but this time around, we thought that it would be great to do a 2-in-1 review of the celebrated and much-loved Shel Silverstein – as we explore his very first poetry collection entitled Don’t Bump the Glump! and other Fantasies initially released in 1964, same year that his most famous picture book The Giving Tree was published – as well as his most recent book Everything On It, released on 2011. Poetry Friday is hosted this week by the lovely Tara at A Teaching Life.
In contrast to other Shel Silverstein’s poetry collections which are published in black and white – Don’t Bump the Glump! as you can see, is in full color! Such a treat indeed. I am also discovering that quite a number of poetry books for children include bestiaries of strangely-surreal creatures (Scranimals by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis comes to mind and Ellen Stern’s I Saw a Bullfrog).
I was simply delighted by this book. For some reason, Silverstein always casts a magical spell on me – the word play is reminiscent of Dr. Seuss or Edward Lear. Yet while the verse celebrates the nonsensical, it never fails to move the reader’s sensibilities. In this lovely full-colored book, the reader gets introduced to this cornucopia of creepy (often humongous or teeny-tiny), oddly-shaped creatures such as the Underslung Zath (would you be able to tell him that it’s time for his bath?) or the Zrbangdraldnk (how to pronounce indeed) who has just arrived in the scene.
And there is the Glub-Toothed Sline who is intent on coming to your house to dine (on what, please don’t ask me that) -
or Arnold the Long-Necked Preposterous who is out looking for a mate:
My ten year old daughter and I just couldn’t stop laughing at the illustrations and the verse and looking at how all these creatures defy natural proportions and the colors – simply glorious! I must admit though that one of my favorites is The Terrible (twenty-foot) Feezus and let’s hope that he doesn’t see us!
As I was looking for resources for this book, I found this downloadable Glump Activity Kit (a pdf link) from Shel Silverstein’s website which includes awesome stuff such as reproducible name tags for kids, word finder/ word search activities and so much more! To say that this would encourage students to dream up their own glumps, zantz, furless flatchims, and squishy squashy staggitalls – would be an understatement – very powerful book for educators and cool parents who are into misshapen – creatively-wrought-out creatures.
This book which has been published 12 years after Silverstein’s death in 1999 at age 68, has caused quite a bit of excitement in the industry since it includes 145 poems and drawings that have never been seen before (click here to be taken to npr.org’s review of the book which also includes an audio link for some of the poems in the book). It is moving and exciting at the same time to read the musings of Silverstein as could be seen in the first poem: Years From Now (p. 9):
Although I cannot see your face
As you flip these poems awhile,
Somewhere from some far-off place
I hear you laughing – and I smile.
I never fail to be moved by Shel’s simple, honest-to-goodness wisdom that clearly shows blacks and whites while celebrating the grays. While I loved his Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic - I have to say that this one is my favorite. I was immediately taken by Spider (p. 190):
A spider lives inside my head Who weaves a strange and wondrous web Of silken threads and silver strings To catch all sorts of flying things, Like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles And specks of dried-up tears, And dust of dreams that catch and cling For years and years and years…
Made me sigh over and over again. I also felt that a few of the poems sounded whimsical and very poignant. One of my personal favorites is The Stairway (pp. 124-125):
I climbed the stairway to the sun To fill my eyes with burning gold. But oh the sky was dank and dark, And there the air was damp and cold, And down below the earth shone bright. I sat and stared in wonder. Then, I crawled back down – I don’t think I Will climb those stairs again.
Makes you think, really. Now here is my last offering from Shel Silverstein for Poetry Friday. I thought that the song from the play (turned movie) Rent entitled Seasons of Love would be the perfect backdrop for Shel Silverstein’s The Clock Man (pp. 94-95):
“How much will you pay for an extra day?” The clock man asked the child. “Not one penny,” the answer came, “For my days are as many as smiles.” “How much will you pay for an extra day?” He asked when the child was grown. “Maybe a dollar or maybe less, For I’ve plenty of days of my own.” “How much will you pay for an extra day?” He asked when the time came to die. “All of the pearls in all of the seas, And all of the stars in the sky.”
Don’t Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies by Shel Silverstein. Harper Collins Publishers, 1964, renewed 1992. Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.
Every Thing On It. Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein. Harper, an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2011. Book borrowed from the Community Library. Book photos taken by me.
PictureBook Challenge Update: 6/7 of 120