A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Fiction — print. HarperCollins, 1981. 175 pgs. Purchased.

Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face and find out what happens when somebody steals your knees; you will get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink and find out what happens when they put a brassiere on a camel.

“They’ve put a brassiere on the camel. She wasn’t dressed proper, you know. They’ve put a brassiere on the camel so that her humps wouldn’t show. And they’re making other respectable plans. They’re event insisting the pigs should wear pants. They’ll dress up the ducks if we give them the chance since they’ve put a brassiere on the camel…” (pg. 166)

This collection of poems and drawings was gifted to me fifteen or so years ago and, unfortunately, I never finished reading the whole thing when I fell within the intended audience. I was not a fan of poetry at the time and passed over the book for years.

Oh, how I wished I had not. Included in this collection are funny poems, serious poems, and poems featuring the bizarre. The poem asking what happens when you put a brassiere on a camel reminded me of another childhood favorite explaining why animals — most especially porcupines — do not wear clothes.

And I enjoyed seeing how Silverstein integrated his drawings into his poems. The poem featuring a snake saying ‘I love you’ comes immediately to mind, but there are others such as “Rockabye” and “Homework Machine” that complimented the poem in a humorous way.

“Said the little boy, ‘Sometimes I drop my spoon’. Said the little old man, ‘I do that too’. The little boy whispered, ‘I wet my pants’. ‘I do that too,’ laughed the little old man. Said the boy, ‘I often cry’. The old man nodded, ‘So do I’. ‘But worst of all,’ said the boy, ‘it seems grown-ups don’t pay attention to me’. And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand. ‘I know what you mean,’ said the little old man.” (pg. 95)

Nestled within the collection are poems I probably would have glossed over or been unable to appreciate to the same degree as I can now. Silverstein actually deals with rather serious issues in some of his poems — my favorite being “The Little Boy and the Old Man” (printed above) — and I love how he is able to converse with his audience on every thing from the serious to the humorous in a witty manner. Should I ever have kids or nieces and nephews, I will be sure to pull this one from the shelf and share it with them before they reach their twenties.

The Classics Club:

I read this book for the Classics Club, which challenges participants read and discuss fifty or more books considered to be classics within a five year period. My personal goal for this project is to read seventy-five books in three years ending on August 15, 2017. You can find out more information by checking out my introductory post, project post, or spreadsheet of titles.

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2 thoughts on “A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

  1. I absolutely loved this book and the other two I’ve read by him. I only wish I could already read them to baby David, but I’ll have to wait until his English skills are at this level. I want to read The Giving Tree at some point.

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