Shel Silverstein’s life philosophy imbued his vast body of work. The poet, artist, playwright, best-selling author, and Grammy-winning songwriter slipped this insight into a conversation between anthropomorphized shapes in his picture book “The Missing Piece.” Published in 1976, the book follows a Pac-Man-precursing figure on an epic search for its lost segment. Upon rolling into a complementary chunk’s path, the protagonist tentatively asks, “Maybe you want to be your own piece?” The piece responds by asserting its agency. Silverstein was advocating for audiences of any age — including his then-six-year-old daughter — to build identities beyond their connections with others.
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