j's Reviews > Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
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's review
Oct 21, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, grade-school-books, 30-day-book-challenge

I am crap at reciting from books. Sure, I know your super-famous opening lines and popular misquotations, but I don't really, like, pause in my reading to note a particularly nice turn of phrase so I can commit it to memory.

Which is odd, because I have always had a pretty good memory for the spoken word and, especially, lyrics. When I was little, my parents found this most amusing. They would hear me playing in my bedroom, singing random snatches of commercial jingles and songs from A Prairie Home Companion to myself. Then they would try to make me perform them for guests.

"Sing the song from the Garrison Keillor tape!" they would say.

"No," I would respond, suddenly shy.

"Come on, sing it!" they'd smile. ("He's being shy, he usually sings this all day!")

"No, I don't want to," I'd insist.

"Come on, Joel, sing the song from the tape."

"NOOOOO!" I would shout, now in tears.


One of the things they would force me to perform like a trained monkey I liked to recite best was Shel Silverstein poetry. I had a cassette tape of Where the Sidewalk Ends (read by the author) that I listened to over and over, to the point where I had all the timing and inflections down and everything. I still have them memorized.

The Crocodile's Toothache

Oh, the crocodile went to the dentist
and he sat down into the chair.
And the dentist said, [jovially] "Now tell me sir, why does it hurt and where?"

And the crocodile said,
"I'll tell you the truth, I've a terrible
ache in my tooth!"

And he opened his jaws so wide,
so wide,
the dentist he climbed right inside!

And the dentist laughed,
[gleefully] "Oh, isn't this fun?"
as he pulled the teeth out

And the crocodile cried,
[frantic] "You're hurting me so!
Please put down your pliers and let me go!"

But the dentist just laughed with a
[deep voice] "Ho ho ho!"
and said, "I still have 12 to go!
Oops, that's the wrong one, I confess
but what's one crocodile tooth
more or less?"

And then suddenly
the jaws went snap!


And the dentist was gone,
right off the map.

From north, [pause]
to south, [pause]
to east, [pause]
to west, [pause]
he left

But [long pause]
what's one dentist, more or less?

FROM MEMORY! It is better if you can hear it. Come by sometime and maybe my parents will force me to perform for you like some kind of sideshow robot freak.

Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 21, 2009 – Shelved
February 16, 2010 – Shelved as: classics
February 16, 2010 – Shelved as: grade-school-books
June 13, 2011 – Shelved as: 30-day-book-challenge

Comments (showing 1-21)

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message 21: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Haha! That's better than the miserable piano plunking my parents forced me to do for company. If only my parents had had me sing tv show theme songs, now that would've been less painful for all.

message 20: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j it's funny, i would happily do it until i realized they wanted me to. then i would refuse. i clearly remember the incident recounted above.

it went on a lot longer and there were actually tears and more shouting. i don't even think it was for guests, they just wanted to hear it.

message 19: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hmm, did they ever try stealth? Like, starting to sing the Keillor song themselves and wait for you to join in on your own?

message 18: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j my dad might have tried. he was always singing some crap.

i still have that song memorized too. i can't find a clip or lyric online, sadly.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)


Shouting, whoops. No, seriously, I can sing along with this too. My grandma had the tape and my sister and I would play it over and over on road trips, on one of those tinny tape players, the flat kind, not a boombox. Crazy. I always hated the pb sandwich one for some reason, and got really good at judging how long to fast forward for.

Man, this is making me feel old.

message 16: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i didn't like that one either. it was too long, kinda creepy, and i didn't like the way shel would pause and then say "blah blah blah peanut butter sandwich!" i also didn't like the one with all the ice cream flavors.

someone tried to tell me a few weeks back that shel silverstein was accused of something untoward with a child. it turned out to be an urban legend, thank god -- though i don't think there is any way he'd be as revered as he is if it were true.

as urban legends go, i prefer "mr. rogers killed like 100 dudes in the korean war!"

message 15: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hah! I didn't know that about Mr. Rogers. I'm going to perpetuate that one.

message 14: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i believe it includes the detail that mr. rogers was a sniper.

message 13: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! He should've done a field trip to a shooting range, forget the graham cracker factory (best episode ever!).

message 12: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j uh-uh. crayon factory episode forever.

message 11: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hah! I was about to list that one, too, but went with the edible.

message 10: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i am sensing this is a theme with you.

(not that i am judging. mmm food.)

message 9: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I do like my sustenance.

message 7: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j Please... Complete that thought!

Therandomben wow, your parents are mean, making you cry through a song just for their own entertainment

message 5: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j i know, and i've been making them pay for it for the last 28 years.

message 4: by Miriam (last edited Apr 09, 2015 10:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Miriam You should tell them that Nina sings the same song but that you won't record it for them because of this traumatic and cruel incident.

message 3: by j (new) - rated it 5 stars

j nina loves to sing but definitely not on cue. can't fault her for it.

message 2: by Sherri (new) - added it

Sherri that is so true !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carter my name is carter and =)

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