The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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Heeeeeelllo readers, hope you’re well and happy this pretty cold and rainy day. It’s been a long week and I can see it getting longer and longer but – and it’s taken a long time. I’VE FINALLY GOT BACK INTO READING. It’s honestly been November since I honestly *felt* like picking up a book to read and to be completely honest with you it’s been a little terrifying. I’m currently reading Microserfs and something abut it has just grabbed me – today is a book/poem I’ve been meaning to get round to since FOREVER and today I am finally reviewing it for you wonderful readers.

“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 and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.

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Before I start this review I’m going to put a word in that I struggled to review this and looking at the really varied reviews on Goodreads it seems like I wasn’t the only one. The book follows the story of a relationship with a young boy and a selfless tree who will do anything for the boy. We see the boy grow up and as he does, he takes more and more from the tree; wood for a house, apples for money but the tree continues to support the boy in all the ways she can until the boy. The tale ends with the two joining together for a really upsetting but thoughtful ending.

Did I enjoy it? Yes and no. Do I think I understood what the author was trying to tell me? Yes and no. It’s one of those books that I think could have 47573858392 meanings and messages and it’s the personal engagement that the reader themselves adds to the story that changes how the story affects you. I liked that the tale was really unpredictable – I really didn’t think that I would be feeling anguish for the tree and yet, eating my tomato soup and reading through this I did feel a little upset? I’m sure alllll of us have been in a situation where we feel we’re being taken from and despite that we just, keep, giving.

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“… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.”

This line particularly hit me – I have been told of by friends before for giving a little too much and wanting putting other’s feelings first even if it affects me in a negative way. I think we can all relate to that – the thing is as a child did I? No, I’m not sure I did. Which is where a lot of the negative reviews appear to have arisen.

In terms of the writing it’s simple and easy to read. The lines are short enough in read to be read by a child but I can also see this being read by an adult to the child and potentially discussing the storyline. I have read a number of reviews saying NEVER GIVE THIS TO A CHILD, but I’m not sure that had to be the answer. As a child I read a book that went along the lines of Alice and Wonderland – although the girl was incredibly selfish and aggravatingly annoying character. Even now I can remember my feelings of surprise and annoyance – which I think even to now taught me something and this might have done the same.

“And the tree was happy”

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The infamous line – was the tree happy? Could she be happy? As I’ve discussed there will be many a difference in opinion mainly relating to how you’ve viewed the rest of the book but I think this line really opens up a number of questions. Could the tree know happiness? Did the boy learn a lesson? Is the book truly to create the question that your own happiness at the cost of others is not happiness at all.

I’m going to leave this review here and go and read the tale again I think – but overall I liked this little tale. There’s so much more to it than meets the eye. I would love to hear what you thought in the comments below?

Liiiiiinks

Goodreads 

Leave a comment

  1. Tara Vanover
    September 30, 2016 / 12:50 am

    My book doesn’t actually contain the lines.., very, very much – even more than she loved herself. Can you tell me where I can find that line verbatium?

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