Friday, June 27, 2008

Uncle Shelby

As I write this I am coming down from two and a half days of hosting a garage sale at my home. My whole family participated, and there were several people who were selling items in the sale. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. It seems like someone in my family hosts a garage sale each year - this year it was my turn.

THroughout the course of the day today (Friday), I did some rummaging through the many things that had been collected in my garage, just to see what was there, and two see if there was anything that I might be interested in. One quick thing to note is that after you have kids, your whole frame of mind changes. It seems that you are always on the lookout for things that your kid(s) would enjoy. This was part of my reasoning for looking around as well.

I soon came across a book which had the name "Shel Silverstein" written in big letters across the top. I'm familiar with the name of course, as most people are. I pulled the book out and revealed the rest of the cover: "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book." With my kid radar on, I thought this might be a neat book to keep around for when my son begins to learn such things. It follows the same lines as your typical alphabet books ("A" is for apple, etc.). But as I perused through the book, it quickly became apparent that this was definitely NOT a kid's book. In fact, I was a little shocked and more than a bit disgusted by what I found. But then as I continued to read through the book, it became obvious that the book was written with humor in mind, and not the education of the young, even though the sub-title of the book is: "A Primer For Tender Young Minds" (this title, when looked at in the context of the entire book actually gives a hint to the sarcasm that is found within the book).

The book is written with simple, easy to understand language that children can understand, but the content is definitely not for children. Allow me to give you some examples:

B is for Baby.
See the baby.
The baby is fat.
The baby is pink.
The baby can cry.
The baby can laugh.
See the baby play.
Play baby, play.
Pretty, pretty, baby.
Mommy loves the baby
More than she loves you.

(This was the first entry from the book that I had read, and I had not yet caught onto the humor of the book. I chuckled to myself, but thought initially that it was just a coincidence.)

G is for gigolo (next to the word "gigolo" there is an instrument that looks like a clarinet).
See the pretty gigolo.
The gigolo makes beautiful music.
The next time your mommy goes shopping,
Ask her to buy you a gigolo.
She will tell all the neighbors how cute you are.
And she will write it in to the Reader's Digest
And they will print it and send you money.

K is for Kidnapper.
See the nice kidnapper?
The kidnapper has a lollipop.
The kidnapper has a keen car.
The car can go fast.
Tell the nice kidnapper that your daddy has lots of money.
Ten maybe he will let you ride in his car.

(Yes, this is a REAL book!)

O is for Oz.
Do you want to visit the wonderful far-off land of Oz?
Where the Wizard lives and scarecrows can dance,
And the road is made of yellow bricks,
And everything is emerald green?
Well, you can't because there is no land of OZ,
And there is no tin Woodsman,

P is for Pony.
See the pony?
The pony lives in the gas tank of Daddy's car.
He makes the car go.
That is called "horse power."
Maybe the pony is hungry.
Pour some nice sugar into the gas tank.
Ponies love sugar.
When Daddy comes home tell him you have fed the pony ,
And maybe he will buy you a cowboy suit.

V is for vacuum cleaner.
See the vacuum cleaner pick up the cracker crumbs.
See the vacuum cleaner pick up the cigarette butts.
The vacuum cleaner can pick up anything!
Do you think the vacuum cleaner can pick up the cat?

And then, on the last page of the book you find these words: "P.S. the paper in this book is not really is made from candy."

I must confess that I think that this book is pure genius. It's even better because Shel Silverstein is obviously known for his landmark children's books, such as "A Light In The Attic," and "Where the Sidewalk Ends," among others. Who would've thought that this guy could have (or more to the point WOULD have) written a book like this? Knowing that the book was written by Silverstein is part of what makes it so shockingly funny.

Also, I must confess that I think it's funny because I find myself identifying with the book (!). Now before you think I'm nuts, let me explain. I have two nieces that I LOVE to torment by telling them weird things and playing with their minds. Of course, I always tell them that I am just joking, and I explain to them what reality is, but it allows for a lot of really fun (and funny) experiences in my family (I intend to do the same thing with my kids when they get older/are born). Any kid of mine will have a deep and rich appreciation of sarcasm (which this book is chock full of, which is probably why I like it so much).

Try to find yourself a copy of this book (you can borrow mine). It's a good, funny, and a little scary read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See if this is still funny when you have kids that can read!!!!! Everything changes then!