Title: A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein
Author: Lisa Rogak
Release Date: November 13, 2007
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Few authors are as beloved as Shel Silverstein. His inimitable drawings and comic poems have become the bedtime staples of millions of children and their parents, but few readers know much about the man behind that wild-eyed, bearded face peering out from the backs of dust jackets.
In A Boy Named Shel, Lisa Rogak tells the full story of a life as antic and adventurous as any of his creations. A man with an incurable case of wanderlust, Shel kept homes on both coasts and many places in between—and enjoyed regular stays in the Playboy Mansion. Everywhere he went he charmed neighbors, made countless friends, and romanced almost as many women with his unstoppable energy and never-ending wit.
When I received A Boy Named Shel as a surprise in the mail, I was very curious. I adored Shel Silverstein when I was young. I have fond memories of his books and poems. I didn’t know much of anything about his life, so I decided to give this book a chance, and am glad I did. I learned a lot about Shel Silverstein, most of which was very surprising!
After reading A Boy Named Shel, I am convinced of one thing: Shel Silverstein was a genius. I couldn’t believe how prolific he was, how he worked, and how much he accomplished. Rogak portrays Silverstein very well, through those that knew him best. As a result, his genius is very evident on these pages.
I have to commend Lisa Rogak on her amazing research. She seems to have mined every source of information on Shel Silverstein that is available. Since he was very private and refused to give interviews during the latter half of his life, Rogak had a lot of work cut out for her. She accomplished it well, giving us a solid biography of this enigmatic genius.
Admittedly, A Boy Named Shel can be slow, and a bit dry at times. It’s a traditional biography, and Rogak incorporated as much information as possible within the pages of this text. Additionally, since most of her sources were interviews, there are a lot of quotes interspersed throughout the book. It makes the book have much more of an editorial feel, rather than an engaging biography. As a result, the book is difficult to get through in places.
If you are at all interested in Shel Silverstein, you will probably find this book interesting. I was so surprised and intrigued by what I learned about him. It made me want to go out and buy his books all over again. In reading A Boy Named Shel, I feel like I understood Shel Silverstein and his sense of humor much better.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!