Information on Shel Silverstein

Essay by W0Nluv May 2002

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Sheldon Allan Silverstein, more commonly known as Shel Silverstein, was born on

September 25, 1932, in Chicago, Illinois. He started writing at the age of 12 although he would

have rather been playing ball. But, he lacked athletic ability, and therefore, became a writer.

He started off writing and drawing cartoons for the Sunday newspaper when he was over in

Vietnam. That triggered his interest in becoming a comical writer, as well as writing poetry and

drawing cartoons to go along with the poems. He is most well known for his poetry in

children's literature, although, he was also a composer, cartoonist, lyricist, and folksinger. He

wrote The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, The Missing Piece, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. He sadly died from a heart attack on Monday, May 10,

1999 at the age of 60 in Key West, Florida (

After analyzing twenty poems, Silverstein's style of writing tended to be simple in meter

and rhyme, but deep in context and theme. Since he writes children's books, when he writes

about life long lessons, he makes them simple and easy to understand. For example, his book,

The Giving Tree, was about two people; one gives and the other takes. Ultimately, both adults

and children embraced the book. His goal was to have people, no matter what age, be able to

identify with his writing style and books.

In "How Much, How Many" there are many examples of meter and rhyme. By using

the same set-up for every line by asking a question, and then answering with the same response

after every question, it sets up a good pattern of beats in each line. He also rhymes every other

line so that the answers to the...