When Shel Silverstein wrote the poem “Years From Now,” he seemed to know that one day he’d be gone but that his playful words and images would still be making children happy. “I cannot see your face,” he writes to his young readers, but in “some far-off place,” he assures them, “I hear you laughing — and I smile.”
The beloved children’s poet and illustrator died in 1999 at age 68. “Years From Now” is one of the poems in a new book called Every Thing On It that has just been released by Silverstein’s family. If you liked Silverstein’s other books, such as Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends,you’ll recognize poems — like “Frightened” — as vintage Shel:
“There are kids underneath my bed,”
Cried little baby monster Fred.
Momma monster smiled. “Oh, Fred,
There’s no such things as kids,” she said.
Every Thing On It includes 145 poems in all. Silverstein eliminated many of them from his earlier books, not because he didn’t like them, but because they just didn’t happen to fit in the perfect order he was looking for in a given collection. Toni Markiet, editor of the new collection, worked on other projects alongside Silverstein. Markiet says the poet paid close attention to every last detail.
“He would move a piece of art over an 18th of an inch … and look at how it looked on a page,” she recalls. ” … It’s a slight adjustment, but to him, it mattered. I think one of the reasons his books are still so immensely popular after almost 50 years is that every tiny detail was considered.”
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