Thursday, June 14, 2012

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein

I'm not the world's biggest Shel Silverstein fan--I find The Giving Tree kind of creepy--to me that story seems more about ingratitude and disrespect than giving.  Silverstein's poetry books are clever, but I don't always find much depth there.  However, I came across Runny Babbit a few days ago and loved the concept.  Published in 2005, Runny Babbit is a project Silverstein apparently spent over 20 years working on.  The poems not only rhyme, but also feature tongue-tripping nonsense words that can be decoded by switching first letters around.  Here's an example:

Runny fad a hamily--
Matter of fact, he had
A sother and two bristers,
A dummy and a mad. 
His mamma fed him marrot cilk
And parrot cie and such,
And all of them were happy
In their cozy hunny butch.

I thought this book was hilarious.  But I must report that I didn't get great reviews when I brought it home.

Me (to son who loves funny books):  "Hey, listen to this, Ewan, it's really funny!"  (reads two poems)
Son (with bored look on his face):  "I don't get it."

Not one to be discouraged, I try again.
Me (to husband who is normally incredibly supportive of my bookish enthusiasms):  "Listen, I want to read you something--" (reads one poem).
Husband:  "Yeah.  I've got to read the newspaper." 

So maybe it's just me.  By the way, I love the part in Diary of a Wimpy Kid where a young Greg Heffley's parents tell him that if he gets up in the night he might find Shel Silverstein walking around in their hall, and how much that freaks Greg out.  Can't say I blame him.  This is Silverstein's author photo for The Giving Tree.

Would you want to find this guy prowling your hallway at night? 

Here's one final poem from Runny Babbit:

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