on 27 November 1997
I grew up thinking this was Silverstein's best book and was shocked to eventually discover that it was almost completely unknown. Subtler than The Giving Tree, Lafcadio illustrates a crucial message in delicately simple line drawings and horrible puns. While Lafcadio is superficially about "success," it delves into our self-definitions and the contradictions forced upon individuals by society. Despite its light, witty tone, it addresses stereotypes and rebellion in easily accessible terms. Every time I reread this book -- and I have cried over it many, many times -- I found a new level on which it related to my own life.
When Lafcadio is ultimately forced to choose between mutually exclusive groups with mutually exclusive destinies, he realizes that he wants neither of those implicit destinies for himself. He can be neither a lion nor a hunter. Unable to decide, he walks away from both. Although it almost glosses over violence in the opening scenes, this only serves to heighten the horror of Lafcadio's final quandary. Here the simplicity of the illustrations only reinforces the universality of Silverstein's message.
With its disquieting ending, Lafcadio forms an apt parable for the dilemmas faced by adults, but especially by children in our society. It applies subtly to both classroom cliques and the former Yugoslavia, both contemporary violence and peer pressure, both finding one's path and watching helplessly as others find theirs. As such, Lafcadio provides both cameraderie and empathy, on a level that readers of all ages can understand.
on 1 January 2008
I hadn't heard of this book until a few years ago, when I came upon it and read a few pages in the bookstore. WOW!!! Although I appreciate Shel Silverstein's other stories and poems, nothing at all is like this one. And, that's a disappointment, because after reading this one to my children, we wanted MORE.
In my kids' schools, the Giving Tree was always considered such a classic, and praised as such. Lafcadio? Never mentioned! How disappointing, and oh, what those students are missing. Lafcadio isn't even in the school's library catalogue!
Lafcadio tells the story of a lion who comes to the city and becomes a gentleman--losing his lionly ways. But, Shel Silverstein tells this story so hilariously, I can barely read it aloud without laughing hysterically. I used to read this to my son, and literally could not get the words out without laughing uncontrollably. This, of course, caused my son to laugh as heartily without even knowing why. . . begging me to stop laughing and to tell him what was so funny. Lafcadio is an experience, that's for sure!
That said, this isn't a completely gentle book. It's probably the only book I've read to the kids that talked about eating people--and, made eating people funny. However, the unexpected quirkiness of the story is also what made it so hilarious. This is really a classic. Your kids will love it and you will love it.
on 11 December 1997
My first grade teacher would read this story to our class every once in a while; later, when I was in high school, she gave it to me as a present when she learned how much of an impact it had had on my life. Lafcadio talks about so many things -- change, alienation, fame... and the tough decisions that we all have to make. This book has brought up issues in my life -- like loving nature, and technology -- which make me wish I could just walk away, like Lafcadio does. But hey, there's always marshmallows!
on 26 April 1999
OK, the title is a slight misnomer. I don't know if Lafcadio was the first of his children's books to be written (probably not) but it was the first to get published, and IMO, it is the best of them all. It's a story of a lion who becomes the darling of the human world but eventually loses his identity--is he an animal, or a human? Of course, there are all these sly cracks at how wonderful and amazing Uncle Shelby is, but hey, it's the author's license....
But I can't say who would love it more--children or adults. So I will say it appeals to absolutely everyone and that all should go read it. That should work.
on 6 May 1998
I am a sophmore and recently in our speech class we were asked to do an interpretive speech on a poem,short story or piece of lit. I immedialty chose Lafcadio, by Shel Silverstein. I simply love this book! It may be a children's book, but the message it sends is helpful and meaningful to people of all ages! The tough decisions we face everyday,peer pressure and the consequences we must pay. It is all mentioned, and it really got me thinking about my life and decisions I must make. I can't express enough how much I love this book!
on 12 May 1999
Lafcado is a book tha teaches smaller kids that are just learning how to read that trying to be some one your not is not a smart thing to do. I love the way that Shel tried to do something new to teach these kids. It is helpful to a parent ( I Know from experience) to get these things that you have to teach your kids of your back and you and your child both have fun.I wish that Shel was still alive because he helped me out a lot being a young mother and all.
I love Shel's books
on 8 July 1999
It is a great book to read with a child between the ages of 7-10. The story has great messages for the reader going on in the background of the story (eg. the lion becomes bored with "having everything"). It was challenging -- but fun -- for my child who is reading at about a third grade level to read out loud to me.
on 3 September 1999
Our teacher read Lafcadio to us and we loved the story (and Lafcadio). We liked all the marshmallow parts--especially the marshmallow suit part. We thought his love of riding elevators very funny. There are also good life lessons in this book. We hope you will read and enjoy it as much as we did.
on 27 March 1998
My son, who's in third grade but is not a strong reader, just completed his first book report using this book. It's not intimidating (lots of great illustrations, manageable amounts of text) and it's an amusing story. For a boy who thinks reading's a chore, this book was a delight.
on 13 May 1999
You should read this book because it is a very neat book about a lion that shoots really well. He eats hunters and takes their bullets(in other words, ammunition). I would tell you more, but you read the rest. I dare you.