19 May 2010

Not Everything is Rated E for Everyone

Two of my favourite writers of all time are very well known for their writings of children's material... and both of them have written and published adult material. And I don't mean grown up material, but ADULT material - as in behind the swinging doors of the video rental store.

Roald Dahl is perhaps one of the most brilliant writer of children's stories the world has ever seen. There's no other way to describe his writings other than just plain brilliant - there's little wonder why so many of his stories have entered our kids lives as movies. Growing up, my mother read me and my brother nearly every Roald Dahl book she could find in the library. That's right, back then we didn't just go to chapters and buy what we needed, we went to the library every two weeks and rented them (records too!).

When I first learned about e-Bay, back in 1998, I began collecting Roald Dahl books (first editions, naturally) for my own kids to read. Since I began receiving them, I have read my kids several of the stories and they are simply fascinated with them. The characters, the adventures and the outlandish tales are just too much to ignore, even for sufferers of ADD. I just about have the entire set of Roald Dahl books, and although, some of them may have been in pristine condition when they arrived on my doorstep, it didn't take long for the 40 year old first edition copies to start looking their age. They are timeless stories however and I hope that someday I can read them to my grandchildren.

In my acquisitions, I came across a collection of short stories called, Switch Bitch, by Roald Dahl. It is a collection of 4 erotic tales, just as fantastic as the children's books, but with an adult theme. It's not a genré that I typically read, so I don't have anything really to compare it to, but I can say that the stories were very entertaining and solidifies my feelings about Roald Dahl as a first class writer. He is truly brilliant.

Shel Silverstein is another great writer who is perhaps (depending on who you ask) best known for his collection of children's books, which themselves are each a collection of poems and creative puns and thoughts. Now, reading my last sentence doesn't give Shel justice, his writings were brilliant as well and imaginative, very, very imaginative. I have also secured hard cover copies of Shel Silversteins's children's books to read to my kids. They love when I bring out Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up and beg me to read them a "long one" when it gets past their bed time, his poems are really fun to read.

As a boy, I never heard of Shel Silverstein, I know now that I had heard his material, but I didn't know who wrote it. As a young adult I learned of Shel through MacLean and MacLean, a Canadian Comedy duo (RIP Gary and Blair) that did a skit on Mr. Silverstein. Now, MacLean and MacLean didn't do any children's material... not even close, but they did pay tribute to Uncle Shelby, as he was known to friends.

As it turns out, Shel Silverstien was a prolific song writer, penning tunes for Johnny Cash (Boy Named Sue), Dr. Hook (Cover of the Rolling Stone), The Irish Rovers (the Unicorn Song) and many others. In addition to writing songs for radio, he wrote a number of songs that couldn't be played on the radio, not even today. They are very much considered Adult content, just listen to The Father of the Boy Named Sue one time. Shel was also a contributor for Playboy magazine for several years, which I think is where he got his big start. Shel Silverstein wrote hundreds and hundreds of poems and songs for both children and adults.

Both Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl had no problem going from Children's material to Adult material they did both very well and used their imagination and creativity to stimulate audiences of all ages. I know that I enjoy both of each of their offerings and am amazed at their talent... I just wished they were both around to continue writing for me, well yeah... and everyone else.

True talent has no boundaries.

My favourite Roald Dahl story is, Danny, The Champion of the World.
My favourite Shel Silverstein story is, A Front Row Seat To Hear Ole Johnny Sing.

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