Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

Falling Up is a charming children’s poetry collection written and illustrated by the esteemed American writer Shel Silverstein. It was first published in 1996 by HarperCollins. Falling Up is Silverstein’s third collection of children’s poetries, and the last one published before his death. It features 144 poems with accompanying drawings and solidified the author’s reputation as an acclaimed children’s author-illustrator. Other notable works by Shel Silverstein include his two prior children’s poetry collections Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, as well as the OG book on environmental sustainability: The Giving Tree. His books are often used by elementary school teachers to teach poetry to children. Falling Up contains some of his most famous and beloved works, including “Allison Beals & Her 25 Eels”, “The Dragon of Grindly Grun,” and “The Voice.”

Shel Silverstein was born in 1930 outside of Chicago, Illinois. He was a self-taught artist, although he briefly enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago before being drafted in the United States Army. Interestingly, Silverstein did not plan on becoming a children’s writer. In the 1950s, he was one of the lead cartoonists for Playboy Magazine and a frequent guest of Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. 

However, his characteristic drawing style mimicked the active imaginations of children - utilizing thin pen strokes with zany, disproportionate angles, and figures. His editor at Harper & Row Ursula Nordstrom encouraged him to try his hand as a children’s author. As a result, Where the Sidewalk Ends was published in 1974, followed by A Light in the Attic in 1981. Silverstein also worked as a songwriter and penned one of Johnny Cash’s biggest hits, “A Boy Named Sue.” Throughout his lifetime, he would be the recipient of two Grammy Awards as well as a Golden Globe Award.

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