Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends Introduction
In A Nutshell
No, we're not talking about the 1950 Film Noir classic. Although now that we've mentioned it, we can't help but wonder if that's where our man Shel Silverstein got his title. Except, unlike the movie, the sidewalk in this poem doesn't end in a dark corner and some shady business (although it just might start there). It ends somewhere entirely different and infinitely more awesome.
"Where the Sidewalk Ends" travels from a dense, dirty city to a magical world with never-before-seen wonders – moon-birds, minty winds, and soft, white grass. Sound strange? It is, and delightfully so. In fact, Shel Silverstein is the king of the silly, the strange, and even the sweetly sad. His poems are perfect for children, but they thrill the old as much as the young. In fact, once you've read one of Silverstein's greats, you're bound to remember it for a very long time indeed.
Published in 1974 as a part of a poetry collection with the same title, "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is definitely one of Silverstein's greats. He captures the child in all of us and invites us on an adventure of the imagination. With plenty of rhythm and rhyme, "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a treat to read aloud before bed, early in the morning, or any time you need a reminder that there's a world beyond the sidewalk just waiting to be explored.
So come along, bring your friends young and old, and journey with us beyond the sidewalk, to the land of imagination.
Why Should I Care?
You may scoff at a poem that is most loved by small children and accompanied in its book form by whimsical illustrations, but Silverstein is skilled in disguising serious ideas with a dose of delight. Yes, this poem is a blast to read – lovely as it falls off the tongue – but it's also deep. Go back to being a child, it tells us, and you'll find the best place there is – the place where only innocence, imagination, and joy can take us.
If you find yourself bored, struggling with the blahs, or just feeling like there's something missing in your life, let this poem transport you back to a better time. Let yourself remember when chalk and a sidewalk were all you needed to make an entire world.
Don't forget, though, that there's plenty of room for imagination and delight in the everyday adult world, too. In this poem, grown-ups are invited along on the adventures, if only they're willing to listen to their child-guides. It's all about imagination, folks, and that's something both Silverstein and Shmoop hope that you always hang onto.