I write books for children. I’ve actually managed to get one published. But, I have a LOT to learn about the craft. The ReFoReMo Challenge was created by, children’s book writer, Carrie Charley Brown. You can learn more about it here http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo/the-reforemo-challenge-is-coming-soon

As Brown puts it, the basic idea is: “As picture book writers, it is necessary to read heaps and gobs of picture books to truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them.  This challenge will be a place to build your reading background with current widely recommended picture books, research, learn how to use mentor texts, and share GREAT picture book models.”

The challenge begins March 1 and ends March 31. So, I am a little late to the party. To add insult to injury, I am not exactly following the guidelines. Instead of researching picture books, I am researching the writers. My search today resulted in some mind-blowing (to me) facts about Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree and numerous poetry books for children. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a peek into the weird and wonderful life of a true Renaissance Man.

  1. He served in Japan and Korea for the United States Army.
  2. In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy Magazine.
  3. Silverstein’s editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, encouraged him to write children’s poetry.
  4. He wrote the lyrics and music for many hit songs for artists such as Dr. Hook, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn. He wrote most of the Dr. Hook songs, including “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone
  5. Silverstein composed original music for several films and displayed a musical versatility in these projects, playing guitar, piano, saxophone and trombone.
  6. He had a popular following on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Among his best-known comedy songs were “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” and “The Smoke-Off” (a tale of a contest to determine who could roll—or smoke—marijuana joints faster).
  7. Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue” won a 1970 Grammy. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his song “I’m Checkin’ Out” in the film Postcards from the Edge. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
  8. He believed that written works needed to be read on paper—the correct paper for the particular work. He usually would not allow his poems and stories to be published unless he could choose the type, size, shape, color, and quality of the paper. Being a book collector, he took seriously the feel of the paper, the look of the book, the fonts, and the binding. Most of his books did not have paperback editions because he did not want his work to be diminished in any way.
  9. In January 1959, Look, Charlie: A Short History of the Pratfall was a chaotic off-Broadway comedy staged by Silverstein, and he went on to write more than 100 one-act plays.
  10. Silverstein’s estate continues to control copyright permissions on his work.