Shel's Billy Sooks

You don't have to shoot me…. I will be your rug and I will lie in front of your fireplace and I won't move a muscle and you can sit on me and toast all the marshmallows you want. I love marshmallows.

Shel Silverstein was born on this day in 1930. The excerpt is from Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, Silverstein's first children's book (its fiftieth anniversary is this year) and the first of his many provocative, often poignant tales aimed at disarming or upending the adult world. Another is Runny Babbit, the "billy sook" he worked away on for decades, and which was finally published in 2005. Runny and his family -- "A sother and two bristers, / A dummy and a mad" -- live in the same forest as Toe Jurtle, Polly Dorcupine, and Pilly Belican (and Reverend Spooner). Young Runny suffers through picken chox and hopes to pe bresident, until he chops down a trerry chee:

Runny wanted to be a king,
So he crot himself a gown.
He then put on a rurple pobe
And strutted up and down.
He shouted to his friends,
"Dow bown, Dow bown and riss my king!"
But everybody laughed and said,
"Oh stop, you thilly sing."

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at


Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."