Shel Silverstein returns with ‘Every Thing on It’


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Shel Silverstein is back with “Every Thing on It,” and it’s a reason to leap, a reason to sing … a reason to leap AND sing.

In some cases, publishing material by a deceased author doesn’t serve anybody. It can be a disappointment to fans (often the work is inferior, which is why it was left unpublished) and add a dissatisfying coda to the writer’s legacy.


That’s not the case with “Every Thing on It,” available now, which was culled from material Silverstein really liked but never found a place for in his other collections.

The book was highlighted on Sunday in a Times preview of fall children’s books –- along with a “new” work by Dr. Seuss -– but the preview didn’t allow any space to give readers a taste of what’s inside. So here’s one, the short poem “Happy Birthday”:

So what if nobody came? I’ll have all the ice cream and tea, And I’ll laugh with myself, And I’ll dance with myself, And I’ll sing ‘Happy birthday to me!’

Can you hear it? There’s the same music –- that same light, mirthful tone -– but also a far richer meaning as well for any child who’s ever felt lonely. Also featuring Silverstein’s signature illustrations, “Every Thing on It” is bound to give a thrill to new young readers -– while providing a time-travel experience for their parents who probably first read “The Giving Tree” and Silverstein’s other books years ago and were changed by them.

--Nick Owchar


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