Falling Up (book)
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Falling Up is a 1996 poetry collection for children by Shel Silverstein, published by HarperCollins. It features illustrations, drawn by the author, for most of the 144 poems. Silverstein dedicated the book to his son, Matthew. It is also the third and final poetry collection by Silverstein in his lifetime, as he died 3 years after Falling Up was released.
It was the recipient of the Booklist Editors' Award in 1996.
The following poems are included in the collection:
- Allison Beals and Her 25 Eels.
- Bad Cold - A man has a serious cold, as he sneezes on anything he can find.
- Battle in the Sky
- Best Mask?- A kid wins first prize at a scary mask contest even though he isn't wearing one.
- Big Eating Contest - A man talks about how it cost for him to enter a hamburger-eating contest, how much the hamburgers he ate were, how expensive his hospital bill was, but he says that his prize was five dollars.
- Blood-Curdling Story- Someone describes a story that's really scary, even though he really doesn't tell it.
- Body Language
- Camp Wonderful
- A Cat, a Kid, and a Mom- A cat, a kid, and the kid's mother talk about how stupid they act when they're around each other.
- Cat Jacks
- Cereal - Shel talks about different kinds of cereals, but he wishes someone would invent a cereal that's all ooey and gooey, because he likes it that way.
- Christmas Dog- A dog protects a family from Santa
- Clean Gene- This boy likes to keep himself squeaky clean.
- Crazy Dream- A boy has a dream in which the school roles are reversed and he finds himself the teacher and the faculty members are now students! In the dream he lays down oppressive rules and gives outrageous homework assignments and has silly questions and tasks written on the blackboard, such as "Who invented the roobiskanker", "How deep is the ocean", "What is the name of the next President of the United States", "Translate the entire dictionary into Pig Latin", etc., until he wakes up, feeling very satisfied.
- Cookwitch Sandwich- A kid learns that Katrina the Cook is actually a witch, so he decides to ask Katrina to make him a sandwich. But little does he know that if he gave that request, Katrina would turn him into an actual sandwich and not give him a sandwich!
- Crystal Ball- A fortune teller has the amazing ability to tell what her customer has eaten for lunch by gazing into her crystal ball—but she soon confesses that the information isn't coming from the crystal, but the customer's dress.
- Danny O'Dare- A girl meets a dancing bear.
- Description- A few people argue over what they think God looks like. Shel knows what God looks like, as he has a photo of God, but he won't tell his friends.
- Dentist Dan- A kid talks about his dentist, who cleans his teeth and fills his cavities with sweets. The kid likes Dentist Dan, but little does the kid know that he might be losing teeth due to all the sweets that the dentist gives him!
- Diving Board
- Don the Dragon's Birthday- Some children bring Don the Dragon a birthday cake for his special day, which he commemorates by "blowing the candles... on."
- Falling Up
- Foot Repair- When a boy wears out his feet from too much walking, he decides to visit a repairman, who offers "new soles and heels"—but the price is far too high!
- Forgetful Paul Revere- As Paul Revere sets out for his famous midnight ride, he desperately tries to remember the exact order of his commands—is it two if by land and one if by sea, or some other combination?
- Former Foreman's Story
- Furniture Bash- Some furniture gets destroyed when they beat up each other.
- Golden Goose
- Hand Holding
- Hard to Please
- Haunted - Shel dares everyone to sneak into a creepy haunted house atop a high hill, describing the horrors that can be found inside. He eventually realizes that the dare is silly, and invites everyone to get ice cream instead.
- Headless Town- A man tries to sell hats in a town that has people with no heads.
- Headphone Harold- Harold prefers listening to the music on his headphones rather than the people and noises around him. Unfortunately, his habit causes him a problem when he takes a walk on the train tracks.
- Hi-Monster - Shel points out that an enormous monster is coming through the mist—the readers see its scaly tail stretching across the entire page! He goes on to warn that the monster must have a horrible head...but when the page is turned, the creature is revealed to not only have a small head, but a polite demeanor as well.
- Human Balloon- Shel sings the praises of the human balloon, a man who swells to an enormous size by guzzling soda and other fizzy drinks, then offers rides to people who sit in a basket tied to his stomach. There's only one risk—the balloon might run out of gas!
- Hungry Kid Island- A girl rows out to Hungry Kid Island, which she imagines is full of starving children who will gladly have lunch with her. But there aren't any children on the island...because the island itself is a giant hungry kid!
- Hypnotized- An amateur hypnotist brainwashes someone into doing all of his chores for him.
- Ice Cream Stop - When an ice cream truck stops at a circus, all of the animals request different cones from "fifty-two flavors." The ice cream man refuses to provide any treats until he is paid, so the menagerie attacks the truck and eats all of the ice cream—and the ice cream man!
- Imagining - A girl thinks that she has a mouse in her hair. Her mother tells her not to worry because she doesn't have a mouse in her hair, only to ignore the fact that the girl has an elephant on top of her head instead of a mouse.
- In the Land of...
- Kanga Ruby
- Keepin' Count
- Keep-Out House
- Little Hoarse- A man complains of a sore throat, explaining he's "a little hoarse." Some children overhear and take his words to mean that he's become a pony!
- Little Pig's Treat
- Long-Leg Lou and Short-Leg Sue - The enormously tall Long-Leg Lou and very tiny Short-Leg Sue are good friends who love to walk and talk together. Eventually, though, Lou gets tired of Sue always "walking behind," and leaves her to find someone who can keep up with him. He ends up unhappy, while Sue befriends Slow-Foot Pete and disregards the idea of "who's in front and who's behind."
- Long Scarf - A man wears an extremely long scarf at all times. When asked to remove it, he launches into a long story about why he cannot do so, as the scarf is the only thing keeping his head attached to his body!
- Lyin' Larry
- Mari-Lou's Ride - A girl swings on a swing so high that she flies all across town, with a bunch of people impressed and her mother dismayed and worried, Mari-Lou decides to end her ride by jumping off the swing into her mother's lap, so that her mother won't have to worry about her.
- Medusa- Medusa tries to fix her snake hair, but her snakes keep disagreeing on what she should do with them.
- Mirror, Mirror- The Wicked Queen demands that her magic mirror tell her "who's the fairest of them all." The exasperated mirror tells her that it is still Snow White—but when the Queen wonders aloud what would happen if the mirror was to fall on the ground, he quickly changes his answer.
- Mister Moody
- Molly's Folly
- Morgan's Curse
- Music Lesson
- My Nose Garden
- My Robot-A robot makes its owner be its servant.
- My Sneaky Cousin - A kid's cousin sneaks into the washing machine. The result is that she comes out "looking clean-but not too happy".
- The Nap Taker
- Needles and Pins
- New World
- No- A sign in an area tells people what they should not do in the area. The sign gets eventually chewed up by a beaver, who says that the sign didn't say that beavers weren't allowed in the area.
- No Grown-Ups- A kid creates a secret club where no adults are allowed.
- No Thank You - A man has so many cats that he decides that he's had enough of them and rejects a kitten that someone offers him.
- Noise Day- Some children decide to create a holiday where they can make a lot of noise.
- Nope - After a man looks at a cantaloupe under a microscope, he decides to never eat cantaloupe again.
- Ooh!- A kid goes to an actual petting zoo, but when he pets a baby tiger, his fingers are bitten off.
- One Out of Sixteen
- People Zoo-A boy get captured and locked up in a zoo where animals can see him instead of him watching the animals.
- Pinocchio- Shel Silverstein's summary of the plot of Pinocchio.
- Plugging In - A family plugs in the electronic wares that they have. But just as the last member in the family is about to plug in their hair dryer, the lights go out, meaning that all the stuff the family plugged in caused a power outage.
- Poison-Tester - Shel bravely volunteers to be a friend's "poison tester," checking his meals and snacks to ensure that they are not dangerous. But it seems that the real danger comes from the fact that Shel won't stop eating every last bite of the food!
- Quality Time
- Reachin' Richard- A boy has a bad habit of reaching across the table instead of asking politely for the food that he wants.
- Red Flowers for You- A man makes a joke about some red flowers being poisonous.
- Rotten Convention
- Sack Race
- Safe? - A girl wonders if it's safe to cross the street, not knowing that a safe is about to drop on her head before she can even cross.
- Screamin' Millie- A girl screams so loud that it ruins her face.
- Settin' Around
- Shanna in the Sauna- A girl tries to get in a sauna when it has too many animals in it.
- Sharing- The narrator is happy to share other people's belongings—it's when he must share his own items that problems begin.
- Shoe Talk- A kid talks to a shoe.
- Short Kid- A short kid talks about how people told him he'd grow "another foot" when he got older. But instead of getting taller, the kid actually has a third foot grow on top of his head, as he says "I guess this is what they meant."
- Show Fish
- Sidewalking - A kid makes fun of the superstition of breaking your mother's back when you step on a crack in the pavement. But then he accidentally breaks his mother's back when he steps on a crack in the sidewalk!
- Smile Makers
- Somethin' New
- Sorry I Spilled It
- Spoiled Brat- A spoiled, bratty girl does a lot of bad things. She eventually falls into a cooking pot and gets cooked up for dinner, but in spite of the good things that they put in the stew made from the corpse of the girl, no one wants a bite from the stew "because [the girl] was so spoiled".
- Stone Airplane - An amateur aviator "builds an airplane out of stone," but quickly realizes that he won't be going anywhere with it.
- Stork Story
- Strange Restaurant - Shel goes to a restaurant and tries to order various meat dishes—but as the place is staffed with all kinds of animals, finding something inoffensive proves difficult. He eventually decides on a simple salad, but even this is not appropriate, as the owner of the restaurant happens to be a head of cabbage!
- Stupid Pencil Maker - A child complains about a pencil that someone has made wrong—the eraser is where the point should be, and so he cannot write anything! Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to realize that flipping the pencil might solve his problem.
- Sun Hat - A girl buys a sun hat that has a brim that's so wide that it not only gives her shade, but other creatures shade as well.
- Sybil the Magician's Last Show- Though Sybil is a skilled magician, she neglects to feed her partner, a rabbit that lives in her top hat. Eventually, the hungry bunny takes revenge by dragging Sybil into the hat for a feast, to the cheers of the audience, who think that she has truly disappeared!
- Tattooin' Ruth-A man gets a suit tattoo when he thinks he cannot stand real clothes.
- Tell Me
- The Bear, the Fire, and the Snow
- The Deadly Eye
- The Gnome, the Gnat, and the Gnu
- The Monkey
- The Runners- A track team runs very fast and have gotten good at it…mainly because their coach is a lion that chases them and that their field has a lot of obstacles that they have to jump over.
- The Sack Race- A kid enters a sack race for the first time, but he doesn't know how to put the sack on properly.
- The Tongue Sticker-Outer
- The Toy Eater
- The Voice
- They Say I Have...
- Three O'Clock
- Three Stings- Three men get stung by bees and comment and what they would do if they got stung by bees again.
- Turkey?- A man is confused after eating a drumstick at a family picnic—everyone seems furious with him for the action, "especially the drummer."
- Unfair - A girl complains that the apartment she's staying in won't accept pets, even though the giant monster she has as a pet is completely harmless and knows a lot of tricks.
- Use for a Mouse
- Warmhearted - A woman has rights for animals, so she waits for Animal Day to arrive, not knowing that the fox fur that she wears is still alive and not dead.
- Wastebasket Brother
- Web-Foot Woe
- We're Out of Paint, So…-A painter runs out of paint, so he decides to make a painting using juices from various foods.
- When I Was Your Age
- Why Is It?
- Writer Waiting
- Zuckerman, Judy (May 19, 1996). "Children's Books;Where Ogden Nash Meets Johnny Cash". The New York Times.