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Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook Hardcover – January 6, 2015

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Editorial Reviews Review

Taken in dall smoses, this self-proclaimed "billy sook" is a fun-filled new (posthumously published) offering from children's poet Shel Silverstein, creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and other favorites. Completed prior to the poet's death in 1999, Runny Babbit was a work in progress for more than 20 years, and is populated by the likes of Runny Babbit, Toe Jurtle, Ploppy Sig, Polly Dorkupine, and Pilly Belican (who owns the Sharber Bop), all denizens of the green woods where letter-flipping runs rampant. In this madcap world, pea soup is sea poup, Capture the Flag is Fapture the Clag, and snow boots are bow snoots. Each poem incorporates the same kind of switcheroo wordplay found in "Runny's Hew Nobby:" Runny Babbit knearned to lit,/ And made a swat and heater,/ And now he sadly will admit/ He bight have done it metter." (Here, in one of many winningly simple line drawings, R. B. sits knitting one very long sleeve, which is labeled as such.) Children who have some fluency in reading will enjoy this bonsensical nook the most. (Ages 7 to 12) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 2-8–In this "billy sook," which was a 20-year work-in-progress, readers are introduced to Runny Babbit and his friends Toe Jurtle, Skertie Gunk, Goctor Doose, and Millie Woose, and are encouraged to plunge headlong into this phonemic flip-flop world of funny poems. "So if you say, 'Let's bead a rook/That's billy as can se,'/You're talkin' Runny Babbit talk,/Just like mim and he." Complete with signature comical bold line drawings that provide visual clues, the poems require concentration to translate the silly phrases: "Runny fad a hamily–/Matter of fact, he had/A sother and two bristers,/A dummy and a mad." Children will love these clever poems and without prompting will probably create their own, unaware that they are focusing on a key reading skill: phonemic awareness. This is a treasure.–Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (January 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060256532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060256531
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about a very strange lion- in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met." So begins Shel Silverstein's very first children's book, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back. It's funny and sad and has made readers laugh and think since it was published in 1963. It was followed the next year by three more books. The first of them, The Giving Tree, is a moving story about the love of a tree for a boy. Shel returned to humor the same year with A Giraffe and a Half, delighting readers with a most riotous ending. The third book in 1964 was Uncle Shelby's Zoo Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, Shel's first poetry collection, and his first and only book illustrated in full color. It combined his unique imagination and bold brand of humor in this collection of silly and scary creatures. Shel's second collection of poems and drawings, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was published in 1974. His recording of the poems won him a Grammy for best Children's Album. In this collection, Shel invited children to dream and dare to imagine the impossible, from a hippopotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world. With his next collection of poems and drawings, A Light in the Attic, published in 1981, Shel asked his readers to turn the light on in their attics, to put something silly in the world, and not to be discouraged by the Whatifs. Instead he urged readers to catch the moon or invite a dinosaur to dinner- to have fun! A Light in the Attic was the first children's book to break onto the New York Times Bestseller List, where it stayed for a record-breaking 182 weeks. The last book that was published before his death in 1999 was Falling Up (1996). Like his other books, it is filled with unforgettable characters. Shel Silverstein's legacy continued with the release of a new work,Runny Babbit, the first posthumous publication conceived and completed before his death and released in March 2005. Witty and wondrous, Runny Babbit is a poetry collection of simple spoonerismsH, which twist the tongue and tease the mind. Don't Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies was recently reissued in 2008 after being unavailable for over 30 years. Shel was always a believer in letting his work do the talking for him--few authors have ever done it better.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on March 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Shel Silverstein's books are a treat for anyone with a silly turn of mind. I thoroughly enjoyed Falling Up and found the Giving Tree heart warming. Runny Babbit a Billy Sook is another supurb example of the writer's style. The characters are dear, and the poems are delightful and skillfully crafted. My husband and I read them to one another one Sunday morning when we were off work together and enjoyed every minute.

I can see pre-readers enjoying the mystery in the entangled words and older readers enjoying the nonsense of the whole thing. Adolescents may find the book "too childish" as they self-consciously attempt to achieve an adult persona, but most adults will enjoy the book for the shear childlike joy it expresses.

The man will live forever in the hearts of his readers.
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99 of 107 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Runny Babbit made my daughter slit her spides laughing, because he balks tackward. In one poem, he cooks for Linderella (who slies on the tripper). In another he wears a bowboy cat. In another his Romma Mabbit instructs him to use his slapkin not his neeve. In a rancy festaurant he eats chied fricken and oiled beggs!

The crawings are mighty dute, too! If your kid bistens to looks, they will think it founds sunny! If your kids rikes to lead by him/herself, she will feel clery vever to recite these lymes out roud!

It is very very boyful jook!
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Aalea1 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What fun!! This is Silverstein at his best. I opened the book with a little trepidation, knowing this was most probably the last time I will get to read a new Shel Silverstein book. I quickly got over that and realized Shel's books were meant to be savored and read over and over again. As with "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "Falling Up," "Runny Babbit" was written by a man who was just a little kid at heart. I had trouble reading it out loud the first time but kids won't miss a beat. His books bring out the kid in all of us and are the most perfect gift for the young and young at heart. All Silverstein books are priced inexpensively to make them more accessible to kids, a huge plus since his books are keepers and givers.
HarperCollins must be joking when they list this book for ages 9-12. I think they missed the mark by about 30 years.
Very highly recommended!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mathew Klickstein on March 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Posthumously released six years after Shel Silverstein's passing away, RUNNY BABBIT has as much pertinence today as it would have then, or even the twenty-five years ago Shel began working on his little opus.

If it were only a simple gimmick that Shel wrote his series of short-story poems in a different "language" (swapping the first letters of certain words in each sentence around), the book would still be a mode of amusement and entertainment, solely because the way Shel developed the style in RUNNY BABBIT is so fun to say and read. It really shakes up your reading to find that, "Wait a second! That's wot written the nay I thought I was reading it!" This is especially true considering Shel spent such a long time writing the book, finding the best way to construct each sentence, choosing the best words possible to play with in his little anthology-o-neologisms.

Fortunately, and as always with Shel Silverstein however, the gimmick of playing with words as he did throughout is not the only seed of ingenuity that germinates in the book. The stories themselves are perfect allegories of our daily lives --falling in love, playing games, going to school, getting a haircut, having a baby-- all elements of an ordinary life told from a unique and fresh perspective.

And as any Shel Silverstein fan knows, his is a unique ability to create something that can be enjoyed by both inquisitive children and scholars alike for it's clear to tell through his entire oeuvre that Shel was well aware that the two are truly the same.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Six years after his passing comes this fitfully funny and silly new children's book, "Runny Babbit". Anyone who has young kids is sure to have at least one of Shel's books. They should be handed out at the hospital when you leave home with your new baby...they are that good!

In this book, Shel composes poems with lines where letters are switched on various words to come up with very silly verses accompanied by Shel's signature illustrations. You're almost certain to become tongue-tied as you try and read lines to your kids like, "Oh Ploppy Sig, oh pessy mig, Oh dilthy firty swine, Whoever thought your room would be As mig a bess as mine?" Soon you and your children will be having a good old time laughing as you try and get the words out. Also really helps build vocabulary as your kids figure out how the words should actually be.

There's over 40 of these tricky, silly word-play poems that will delight you and your children for many years to come. A great gift for grandparents to give as well.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This crazy title gives some idea of what's going on between the covers of award-winning author/artist Shel Silverstein's bew nook, er, new book. You are now entering the backwards land of Toe Jurtle, Skertie Gunk, Rirty Dat and Dungry Hog, an imaginative series of adventures where all and sundry speak Runny Babbit talk.

Each page has a new rhyme (rhew nyme?) and one of Silverstein's humorous and endearing black and white illustrations, lines guaranteed to keep your child guffawing with the silly sounds that come from saying things backwards:

"When Ramma Mabbit started teachin'

Runny how to eat,

He ficked his pood up with his ears,

He wasn't very neat."

There's the rhyme about "His Kajesty the Ming", "Runny the Fricken Charmer", "Runny's Garty Pames" and "Runny Shearns to Lare."

Runny discovers the library:

"Runny lent to the wibrary

And there were bundreds of hooks-

Bistory hooks, beography gooks,

And lots and lots of bory stooks." ("Runny's Heading Rabits")

A wild celebration of the antics of language run amok, Silverstein has created page after page of laughs for children to read, challenging their reading and comprehension skills, the reward an hour of giggles. The author must have realized we would have our favorites- he added a table of contents listing each of the silly titles. Don't forget to "Bead a Rook" with your kid! (For all ages, but especially for a hysterical time with a favorite grandchild.) Luan Gaines/2005.
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