The Giving Tree Hardcover – Feb 18 2014
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To say that this particular apple tree is a "giving tree" is an understatement. In Shel Silverstein's popular tale of few words and simple line drawings, a tree starts out as a leafy playground, shade provider, and apple bearer for a rambunctious little boy. Making the boy happy makes the tree happy, but with time it becomes more challenging for the generous tree to meet his needs. When he asks for money, she suggests that he sell her apples. When he asks for a house, she offers her branches for lumber. When the boy is old, too old and sad to play in the tree, he asks the tree for a boat. She suggests that he cut her down to a stump so he can craft a boat out of her trunk. He unthinkingly does it. At this point in the story, the double-page spread shows a pathetic solitary stump, poignantly cut down to the heart the boy once carved into the tree as a child that said "M.E. + T." "And then the tree was happy... but not really." When there's nothing left of her, the boy returns again as an old man, needing a quiet place to sit and rest. The stump offers up her services, and he sits on it. "And the tree was happy." While the message of this book is unclear (Take and take and take? Give and give and give? Complete self-sacrifice is good? Complete self-sacrifice is infinitely sad?), Silverstein has perhaps deliberately left the book open to interpretation. (All ages) --Karin Snelson
From the Back Cover
"Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.
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. But as the boy grew older, he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.
Since it was first published fifty years ago, Shel Silverstein's moving parable for readers of all ages has offered an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I get teared up almost every time I read this story. To me, it seems to be a wonderful allegory about the nature of God's love and his relationship to humankind. God gives and gives and gives and we take and take and take, yet He loves us still, even though we are plotting our doom and will one day be brought low and destroyed for our transgressions. However, I also realize that there are several other ways of reading this books, too (there's the whole environmental take). Whatever way you read it, I find it amazing that the pot smoking Silverstein, who was known for using racy language, was also one of the foremost children's authors of the modern era and was able to write such a moving work. Knowing that, the effect of the story's moral is augmented.
Anyway. Some might think that the moral lesson in the giving tree isn't right for young children to know. I disagree. Life's not always fair and though there are many children who see the selfishness of the little boy, many fail to see the selfishness in themselves and therefore miss out on the book's main point. A wonderful, powerful, and moving children's story.
Reading some of the reviews in here I am astonished at the degree and depth of ignorance some parents, including those describing themselves as educators, have with the themes in this book.
Here is a sampling of the conclusions:
"A cautionary tale about the human impact on the environment" -
Certainly one can draw a conclusion about the effect man has on the environment but to leave it at that is to miss the vast majority of the themes in the book. Or:
"it rationalizes and supports battered women staying with their scumbag abusers" -
The battered woman theme is so contrived that it could only be brought up by people who have nothing else on their minds but battered women. Give an inkblot to a battered woman and she sees a battered woman. Even:
"As a child, this was one of my favorite books. As an enlightened adult, it's a disturbing look at relationships"
This is a sad and ironic statement which strangely hints at the life of the person in the book! To the person that made this review: as a child you could "see"; as an adult you will make it what you want it to be. You are not enlightened; you were smarter as a child. Relationships!? Stop reading People magazine. The tree is not a symbol of people it is a symbol of bigger themes like life, unconditional love, self-awareness and introspection, even God - but relationships? Turn off your TV.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The meaning of life is giving. But the meaning of life is also love. Rivers and Sequoia are therapy dogs who work only for love. They love listening to stories. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Connie Sush
This book has been our favorite, it makes a good bedtime story and it does teaches my son valuable lessons tooPublished 2 months ago by Clément
This is one book that every child should own. Love it.Published 5 months ago by Ms. Danell G. Greenlees
Definitely not for kids under 30. The depth of meaning in this illustrated book is well beyond most people's expectation for any child's reading. Very pleased with purchase. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Moca
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