US Stamps

New U.S. stamp celebrates children’s author Shel Silverstein April 8

Mar 22, 2022, 8 AM
Children’s author and illustrator Shel Silverstein will be recognized on a United States forever commemorative stamp to be issued April 8 in Chicago. The first-day ceremony will be held at Darwin Elementary School, which Silverstein attended as a young bo

By Charles Snee

Beloved children’s author and illustrator Shel Silverstein will be honored on a United States commemorative stamp to be issued April 8 at a Chicago elementary school that he attended as a young boy. Silverstein was born in Chicago on Sept. 25, 1930.

The official first-day ceremony for the nondenominated (58¢) Shel Silverstein stamp will take place at 11 a.m. Central Daylight Time at Charles R. Darwin Elementary School, 3116 W. Belden Ave.

Judy de Torok, vice president of corporate affairs for the U.S. Postal Service, will serve as the dedicating official.

Due to space limitations, the Postal Service requests that those interested in attending the first-day ceremony register online. Registration will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Shel Silverstein stamp will be available for purchase in panes of 20 nationwide on the first day of issue. A total of 20 million stamps (1 million panes) were printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y.

According to the USPS, Stamp Fulfillment Services will not make an automatic push distribution of the Shel Silverstein stamp to post offices. Therefore, it is likely that some post offices will not have panes available for sale on April 8.

Although the stamp is a tribute to Silverstein, it also celebrates what is arguably the author’s best-known work, The Giving Tree, which Harper & Row first published in 1964.

Silverstein’s drawing of a boy in overalls waiting with outstretched arms to catch a ripe apple from the tree that adores him is set against a bright green background. “Shel Silverstein” is lettered in black across the bottom of the stamp, and “The Giving Tree” is rendered in white up the left side.

Missing from the stamp’s design, however, is the tree that appears on the cover of the book. In that scene, also with a background of bright green, the tree is shown bending at its trunk toward the boy as it drops the apple from its branch.

On Jan. 11, the USPS announced the addition of the Shel Silverstein stamp to its 2022 stamp program. In the days that followed, the stamp came under fire from some because the tree was omitted from the design.

“Once there was a tree … and she loved a little boy,” wrote Silverstein in the opening to his poignant story about love and acceptance.

“Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy,” according to a summary of the plot on a HarperCollins Publishers’ website.

“But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation.”

At the end of the story, the boy, now an elderly man, returns to rest against the tree, which is reduced to a stump.

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