Shel Silverstein had the ability to think like a kid. Only a few adult authors truly possess this skill. I remember when this book was first published, and my parents got a copy. They were reading it together and laughing, and I thought it wasn't fair, because he wrote it for me, an eleven year old, and why should old people like my parents find it funny?
Now, as a teacher, I use this book to introduce students to the joy of writing poetry, when usually they run in fear from the very idea. The topics are as wide as his imagination was wild, and while the humor is at a youthful level, it never crosses the line of unacceptable crudeness.
A handful of the epic poems in this book become a little tedious, but most of his best works, which appear in many English textbooks, are found in this volume. Not all the poems are silly. Throughout the book are poems that surprise the reader in their clarity, honesty, and thoughtfulness.
Throughout the book there is a sense of wonder at the world we live in, and a sly investigation into the silly behaviors we all exhibit, no matter what the age. And his hilarious line drawings, often integrated into the text, are the icing on the cake.
Of all the poetry collections Shel wrote, this is the first and the best, still fresh after all these years.