Where the Sidewalk Ends – A Message from Joaquín Zihuatanejo
We recently posted a blog about the Top 5 Summer Activities for Youth and what seemed to be a random conversation about poetry, quickly lead us into the the mind and thought process of our very own, Joaquín Zihuatanejo. Through our conversation, we spoke of a children’s classic… Where the Sidewalk Ends.
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” is a 1974 children’s poetry collection written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. The book’s poems address many common childhood concerns and also present other fanciful stories. In 2007, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers Top 100 Books for Children.”
Here are a few of Joaquin’s thoughts on “Where the Sidewalk Ends”:
“It was always a favorite of both of my daughters. I actually painted a mural along all four walls of Dakota’s childhood bedroom that was Silverstein’s Giving Tree playing hide and go seek with a boy.
What strikes me about Where the Sidewalk Ends though is it’s ability to speak to children and adults alike.So many different readers of all ages simply connect with this book on a very personal level.
Another striking characteristic is its fluidity and musicality. Silverstein was a songwriter of sorts and hung out as a young man with Cash, Waylon, Willie and the boys. I think underneath its innocence is an ineffable way to find beauty in pain and loss. There is also a hell raiser quality to it that comes from befriending the rebel outcasts of country and rock that he ran with as a young man.
The meter and rhyme create the song, but it’s the imagery and honesty that create the soul inside the song.
There’s actually recordings of him reciting excerpts over music and Cash did covers of his work.
I think its power and longevity are due equally to its brutal honesty and its innocent musicality, which merge together in Silverstein’s mind and out onto the page in a way so few poets/artists can create.
And don’t get me started on his drawings and images…damn brilliant.”
Thank you Joaquin for your insight… further exposing Silverstein’s genius. If you haven’t read Where the Sidewalk Ends in a while, please do so and share this great book with your children.
Joaquín Zihuatanejo is a poet, spoken word artist, and award-winning teacher. Born and raised in the barrio of East Dallas, in his work Joaquín strives to capture the duality of the Chicano culture. Sometimes brutal, but always honest his work depicts the essence of barrio life, writing about a youth that existed somewhere between the streets of the barrio and the dream wanderings of a boy who found refuge in a world of stories and poems.
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