Study Guide

Where the Sidewalk Ends Introduction

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Where the Sidewalk Ends Introduction

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.

What is Where the Sidewalk Ends About and 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.

Where the Sidewalk Ends Resources


Silverstein on
You know you've made it when you have your own section on

The Bomb Dot Com
Where the sidewalk ends, the Internet begins. This site is full of all kinds of fun information, activities, and animations just for you.


Silverstein on "The Johnny Cash Show"
Silverstein and Cash play together on Johnny Cash's television show, then Silverstein plays alone. These two are the kings of cool.

The Giving Tree
An animated movie version of Silverstein's children's book, The Giving Tree, narrated by Silverstein himself. The man's quite a multi-tasker!


"Twistable Turnable Man"
Looks like we're not the only ones who love Mr. Silverstein. Here's a tribute to our poet, with musicians of fame old and new playing and singing his songs and poems.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends"
It's a bit hard to track down, but the audio version of Where the Sidewalk Ends is well worth the effort. After all, it is a Grammy-winner.


"Where the Sidewalk Ends"
If you're having trouble imagining just what lays beyond the sidewalk, this wraparound image, drawn by Silverstein, from the cover of his book ought to help.

Our Poet
Is he not the epitome of cool? Also, is it just us, or does he have huge feet?


Where the Sidewalk Ends
If you loved "Where the Sidewalk Ends," then you're sure to love the book that contains it, and tons more awesome poems.

Shel Silverstein on
This is an index of all of Silverstein's books that are available on, as well as a biography.

Movies & TV

Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back
This movie, based on the book of the same name, was written and directed by the man himself, who seems to wear many hats, if we may say so.

Historical Documents

Shel's End
A brief farewell to Shel, a jack-of-all-trades, who died of a heart attack in 1999.

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