Friday, January 19, 2018

Review - The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein
Date: 1964
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 64
Format: e-book
Source: library

"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.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I think I probably read this at one time, given that I liked some of Silverstein's other books (I still remember that poem about the sharp-toothed snail). But, if I read The Giving Tree at some point, it would've been when I was young enough to not be so jaded. Because... holy crap, that is one codependent tree!

The poor thing gives and gives and gives, and while it's heartwarming in the beginning when the boy actually loves her back, it gets to be disturbing as the boy grows up and only comes around when he wants something from her. Apples. Her branches. Her trunk. It's never enough. Even after she's been reduced to a stump, she's still happy when the boy finally comes back to her. If that's not the definition of a dysfunctional relationship, I don't know what is.

If this was supposed to be a book about unconditional love, it kind of failed. If it was meant more as a warning about codependent relationships, then it hit the mark pretty well.

Quotable moment:

"Cut down my trunk
and make a boat,"
said the tree.
"Then you can sail away...
and be happy."

And so the boy cut down her trunk

and made a boat and sailed away.

And the tree was happy...

but not really.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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