Monthly Archives: September 2013

More Shel Silverstein (Maybe NSFW)

by Heather Harris Brady

I have to confess that I thought I had grown up without Shel Silverstein, when a friend gave me a copy of The Giving Tree for my firstborn. To this day I cannot get through that heartbreakingly lovely story without breaking down in tears. It was the first Silverstein children’s book I’d read.

It wasn’t until I watched Almost Famous a few months ago that I realized I did, in fact, grow up with Shel Silverstein but in a very different form – his music. Almost Famous includes Cover of the Rolling Stone, and the credits noted the songwriter – Shel Silverstein. Once I dove into it further, I found he wrote many of the songs for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. My mom had all their music on eight-track tape, and it was the soundtrack to my middle-grade years. I can still probably sing them all, which tells you something about the difference between being a middle-grader in the ’70’s and my middle-grade daughter today! You can listen here and here.

This is not to mention he was also a cartoonist for Playboy and a musician in his own right. So when someone tries to pigeonhole you into a certain genre, or you worry about it yourself, think of Shel and write that edgy young adult – even if you’ve been doing picture books!

At this point in my life, as I’m coming to the realization (helped along by my teenage son) that there are many, many people younger than me I feel obligated to post all this here. My next project will likely be a middle grade book set in the ’70’s, so consider yourself warned!

Happy Birthday Shel Silverstein

The original most interesting man in the world

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You can find some wonderful resources for young writers on his website.