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The Giving Tree Hardcover – Feb 18 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 393 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (Feb. 18 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060256656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060256654
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 393 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
THE GIVING TREE has become a piece of classic modern children's literature. It is the story of a tree who gives everything she has to a little boy. At first the boy loves in return, but then he begins to take and take and give nothing in return, until finally after many years the tree is nothing more than a battered stump. The boy eventually returns to the tree and though he never acknowledges any selfish behavior the tree offers him what little she has left and the relationship between the two is restored.
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.
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By A Customer on March 11 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like most of the reviewers here, I read this book as a young child. I remember it was not like any other children's book I had ever read. I remember not liking the boy as he grew older and not wanting to be like him when I grew up, but I also remember wondering why the tree gave so much for nothing in return. I had questions and I asked them.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Both camps are right (and wrong) about this book. I don't want to simplify things too much but it seems like the lovers tend to say it's a Great and Classic book that contains a message about altruistic love while the haters tend to call it a piece of garbage that contains a codependant, parasitic, misogynist message. It's true that there is no honest love in this book. Yes, the tree is sick and self-destructive, yes the boy is a parasite, that's all true. It's no mistake that the tree is female and her abuser is male, Silverstein wants us to be offended. Remember, the tree is not happy at what she does and allows to be done to her, though she tries to believe she is. Is it possible for adults, who presumably can understand the relationship in this book, to read it to children and encourage a conversation about the problems in it? I don't mean the problems with the book, it works too well and I don't believe it really has any, I mean the problems the characters have. Both the tree and the boy are messed up and in seeing and understanding that, readers can hopefully avoid the mistakes made by those characters. I have no doubt that this is a Great book but it's not a feel-good story to keep close to your heart. I can think of no other children's book like it. Children deserve to hear this book read by thoughtful, responsible, caring adults.
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By A Customer on Aug. 18 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read the same symposium that someone else mentioned hereIt set me to thinking about this book (which I still love) in ways Ihadn't before. If you look at this story as the boy's story and not the tree's, it's possible to see it as a cautionary tale. Remember, the Tree keeps saying, "Take this or that, and then you will be happy." But after chidhood, does the boy ever seem happy? Even after he's attained the wife and family he's looked for, he wants to build a boat to sail away, being "too old and sad to play". (Although, in all fairness, maybe tragedy took his spouse from him.) At the end, he looks dejected and worn. Could Shel have been issuing a warning that anyone who does nothing but take will never be truly content? Perhaps if the boy had learned to give in return, he would have had a more contented life.Although I do see the boy as finally learning his lesson toward the end. When he returns to the stump at the end, he has to know that the tree has nothing left to give. But he is finally ready to give the tree the only thing she ever asked of him...companionship. I kinda see in the old man's face a realization of what he's done and a repentance.There's another metaphor for this as well...the metaphor of parent to child. How many children never see or appreciate the sacrifices their parents have made for them till it is too late, or almost too late? This could have been another warning Shel was issuing. END
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