Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Well-done reflection by Brittney Sanderson. This one is two stars!

Silverstein, S. (1974). Where the sidewalk ends. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

 The very first poem of the book says, “Come on in…” and that is exactly what you do when opening this fabulous and profound book of poems by Shel Silverstein. This collection of poems will really open and engage the minds of young children exposing them to poems about a young girl who refused to take the garbage out to a poem about a boy’s giant friend. There are so many different poems to choose from in this wildly imaginative collection, I will just discuss a few of them! This collection of poems fits into the genre of the week, which is poetry because this whole book is an expression of Shel Silverstein’s unique and abstract thoughts and ideas. These poems are innovative and imaginative: it is no wonder that he is a staple among children’s literature. 

My absolute favorite poem in this book is, “Sick.” It is simply just a hysterical poem about a little girl, Peggy Ann McKay, who is just too sick to go to school. She goes on, for two pages, to list all of her ailments, from chicken pox, instamatic flu, and a shrunken brain. Finally, when the unknown person she is talking to explains to her it is Saturday, she jumps out of bed and off to play! Any kid could relate to trying to stay home sick at one point or another from school. This is definitely a narrative poem because this little girl is telling a story of all the sicknesses she ails from. There are many poetic elements in this poem as every two lines are a couplet with those two lines rhyming. In “Sick”, Peggy Ann says that her “tonsils are as big as rocks,” using a great example of a simile. 

Another neat poem in the collection is, “The Fourth.” This poem has excellent examples of onomatopoeia like “CRASH!”, “BASH!” and “BANG!” This is an extremely short poem about the Fourth of July but as you read the poem you can almost see the fireworks crashing into the sky! The use of onomatopoeia really adds to the dynamic of the poem. This would be a great poem to use with visualizing. You could have the students draw what they see as you read this aloud to them!

Another interesting poem in the collection is “Lazy Jane.” This poem is an example of a concrete poem. It is about this girl Jane who wants a drink of water so she waits for it to rain. The words are in a line one by one so it looks as if the words are the rain falling from the sky! 

“My Beard” is a hysterical example of a limerick, where lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme and lines 3 and 4 rhyme. It talks about how this man grew a beard so long he doesn’t wear any clothes, he simply just has a beard. Kids would absolutely crack up at this idea, as well as looking at the illustrations that go with this. Not only this poem, but the illustrations that go with many of the poems are very simple, done is simple pen, but they evoke and capture the nature of each poem, adding a slight touch of humor to go with the already laughable poems. They are not fancy or colorful but they seem to fit the poems perfectly. Kids writing their own poems could easily mimic these illustrations as well and would feel like a true poet! 

I could go on and on about the poems in this book. I used post-it notes to track my thoughts and also keep track of poetry elements in the book. After about 10 or 15 poems, I had to stop because if I kept going, I was going to use a whole pack! The collection is FULL of poetic elements that you could use just this book over the course of a school year to teach plenty of them to your students!

BIG QUESTIONS: Why do you think Silverstein titled the book, “Where the Sidewalk Ends?” What do you think that means? How does the use of consonance in the poem, “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too,” add to the flow and humor of the poem? Do you think there is a correct way to write poetry? Where do you think Silverstein gets his inspiration to write poems like these? How did the illustrations add to the poems? What was your favorite poem and tell me why? In the actual poem, “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” it says that only the children know how to get there- why is this important?

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