On Our Bookshelves – The Missing Piece


BOOK: The Missing Piece

AUTHOR: Shel Silverstein



I was a fan of Shel Silverstein’s poetry when I was a kid, and absolutely loved his collections Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. My old copies are still around, although my older daughter has claimed them as her own, and they’re now on her bookcase. Which is as it should be. She’s also got a copy of Falling Up, but that one came out after I grew up, so, although it’s equally full of fanciful stories, humor, wisdom, and amusing cartoons, for me, it just doesn’t quite have the same magic.

The Shel Silverstein volume I’ve held on to, personally, is another children’s book, The Missing Piece. I’m attached to this one in part because one of my uncles, knowing I liked the author, waited on a long line at bookstore to get me a signed copy many years back, and so I have a nice little picture of “it” holding a sign which reads “For LAURA with LOVE Shel Silverstein.”


“It” doesn’t have a name in this fable. We’re introduced thus: “It was missing a piece. And it was not happy. So it set off in search of its missing piece.” It is a circular creature, looking a bit like Pac Man, or a cake missing one serving.  And off it went, rolling (but not very fast, because it was missing a piece), and singing, meeting potential missing pieces to see how they fit, seeing the sights, and having adventures.


The Missing Piece is a gentle and thought-provoking little story, about what not to do (hold on to your missing piece too loosely, or too tightly), and the difference between what we want and what we think we want. And how the journey itself can be more important than the destination.


It’s a great gift book, for young and old, because who among us isn’t looking for something, or someone, to complete us? And who doesn’t need a little reminder, from time to time, that such a quest is likely futile?


Shel Silverstein was very particular about books (and a book collector himself) and so rarely allowed for paperback editions of any of his work, being always quite serious about all aspects of each book’s appearance, and insistent regarding his high standards for paper quality and binding. Consequently, his books are lovely to hold, and to read aloud to children. Or adults, for that matter.


RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 4 Whistles




Lead-In Image Courtesy of ShelSilverstein.com and Evil Eye, LLC


Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com



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