Kid Lit Author Shel Silverstein Comes Back From the Dead to Save Bedtime

Shel Silverstein Every Thing On ItKiddie lit fans should be dancing a jig this morning. Not one but two of America's classic authors have new books out on the shelves ready for us to devour, er, share with our kids. And by classic authors, I mean two of the biggest names in the game: Shel Silverstein and Maurice Sendak.

Making things cooler -- or maybe just proving I'm a complete book nerd -- I'm practically quivering with excitement because the latter is dead, 12 years gone in fact. Silverstein is pulling a Tupac to help improve bedtime with the kiddos. Oh, and despite the movie re-creation of his Where the Wild Things Are a few years back, Sendak hasn't actually published a thing for our kids in 30 years. Not as cool as resurrection, but pretty darn cool.


And in the face of ever-changing techy gadgets, we word-loving parents could use some more weapons in our "get 'em reading" arsenal. Classic authors are a touchstone for us. We loved them, we identified with them, so we hope (cross your fingers), they'll carry the same magic touch for our kids. Silverstein's Every Thing On It and Sendak's Bumble-Ardy are like lights in the dark for parents trying to balance the new with the old.

So how do these hot hardcovers fare? The Stir got ahold of advanced reader copies of both to give you the skinny:

Every Thing On It: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein: Since his death in 1999, the curators of the Silverstein estate have been working to bring together 145 completely new original drawings and poems, and the time and care they took to get the job done are apparent. They played to Silverstein's strength: simplicity. That means poems that can be as short as two lines, but still make kids giggle, and ink drawings that show just a pair of feet, one per page. It's the stuff that made Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up staples on kids' bedside tables, and it's back.

But that's just me talking, so take it from a 6-year-old: We read a few at bedtime, and she told me, "This book is really funny!" Pretty simple -- but spot on.

Bumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak: Based on a Sesame Street skit Sendak created in the '70s, it's the story of a pig whose family didn't bother to throw him birthdays when he was a tot. But when they went big and ate and ate for his eighth birthday, to the slaughterhouse they went. Dark? Yes, it's classic Sendak. In truth, the book manages to impart that story and Bumble-Ardy's much happier ninth birthday party in a funny, I dare say happy way. There's no doubt Sendak has still got it 30 years later. But where many of his stories' dark underbellies were a parent's glimpse into their kids' darkest fears, Bumble-Ardy lacks ... heart. It's that, and not the fear factor, that makes the suggested age of 4-8 seem a tad too low.

I won't write it off, but I'd stick it aside for an older kid. For younger ones, I much prefer the Sesame Street skit:

Want the 6-year-old viewpoint? She took one look at the cover and told me it looked too scary to read. And this from the kid whose favorite book at 2 1/2 was Georgie and the Noisy Ghost.

Do you prefer reading authors you enjoyed as a kid to YOUR kids? Will you be checking out these new books from Silverstein and Sendak?


Image via Amazon

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