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Shel Silverstein, author, illustrator and Chicago native, receives “The Giving Tree” stamp


CHICAGO (CBS) — Acclaimed children’s author and Chicago native Shel Silverstein has been honored with a new “forever” postage stamp.

The stamp was dedicated to Charles R. Darwin Elementary, at 3116 W. Belden Ave. in the community of Logan Square. Silverstein (1930-1999) attended school as a boy.

“He could be silly or serious – and anything in between. With his witty rhymes and whimsical, nonsensical verses, it was clear he enjoyed playing with language,” the VP said. of the Postal Service’s corporate affairs, Judy of Torok, in a press release. . “It was also clear that his many readers – young and old – loved him for his clever wordplay. His books are bestsellers, with over 20 million copies sold in over 47 languages.”

At the dedication Friday, Chicago Literary Hall of Fame founding executive director Don Evans pointed out that Silverstein grew up in West Town and Logan Square.

Published reports noted that Silverstein’s father had a bakery at Walton and Rockwell streets which later moved to Western Avenue at Rice Street. Silverstein himself grew up at 2853 W. Palmer St. – having moved there with his family as a child.

Fourth-graders from Darwin recited some of Silverstein’s most memorable poems during the event on Friday. The walls of Darwin Elementary also featured student poster reproductions of some of Silverstein’s most famous illustrations.

The stamp pays homage to Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”, published by Harper & Row in 1964. The book tells the story of a boy and a self-sacrificing tree that gives him shade, apples, branches and even his trunk as he grows into a man and grows old. Some call it a story of selflessness and generosity, while others take issue with how the boy treats the ever-generous tree. But it has been known for generations as a classic.

Silverstein was also well known for his self-illustrated volumes of poetry, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (1974), “A Light in the Attic” (1981), “Falling Up” (1996), and “Every Thing On It” ( 2011). He also wrote several poems that appeared on the classic 1972 children’s album “Free to Be…You and Me.”

Silverstein graduated from Roosevelt High School and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Roosevelt University before joining the United States Army. His cartoons appeared in “Stars and Stripes” magazine during his time in the military.

Silverstein also wrote and illustrated books for adult readers, recorded albums of his own music, wrote off-Broadway plays. He wrote the classic Johnny Cash song ‘A Boy Named Sue’ and the song ‘The Unicorn’ – best known for his rendition by the Irish Rovers. He also co-wrote the screenplay for “Things Change” by David Mamet.

Silverstein spent many years as a cartoonist and columnist for Playboy magazine, beginning in 1956, according to published reports.

Silverstein died at his home in Key West, Florida in 1999 at the age of 68.


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