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The Giving Tree Hardcover – February 18, 2014


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 1 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 530L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; 1st edition (February 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060256656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060256654
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,334 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Publisher

Once there was a little 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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More About the Author

"And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about a very strange lion- in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met." So begins Shel Silverstein's very first children's book, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back. It's funny and sad and has made readers laugh and think since it was published in 1963. It was followed the next year by three more books. The first of them, The Giving Tree, is a moving story about the love of a tree for a boy. Shel returned to humor the same year with A Giraffe and a Half, delighting readers with a most riotous ending. The third book in 1964 was Uncle Shelby's Zoo Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, Shel's first poetry collection, and his first and only book illustrated in full color. It combined his unique imagination and bold brand of humor in this collection of silly and scary creatures. Shel's second collection of poems and drawings, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was published in 1974. His recording of the poems won him a Grammy for best Children's Album. In this collection, Shel invited children to dream and dare to imagine the impossible, from a hippopotamus sandwich to the longest nose in the world. With his next collection of poems and drawings, A Light in the Attic, published in 1981, Shel asked his readers to turn the light on in their attics, to put something silly in the world, and not to be discouraged by the Whatifs. Instead he urged readers to catch the moon or invite a dinosaur to dinner- to have fun! A Light in the Attic was the first children's book to break onto the New York Times Bestseller List, where it stayed for a record-breaking 182 weeks. The last book that was published before his death in 1999 was Falling Up (1996). Like his other books, it is filled with unforgettable characters. Shel Silverstein's legacy continued with the release of a new work,Runny Babbit, the first posthumous publication conceived and completed before his death and released in March 2005. Witty and wondrous, Runny Babbit is a poetry collection of simple spoonerismsH, which twist the tongue and tease the mind. Don't Bump the Glump! And Other Fantasies was recently reissued in 2008 after being unavailable for over 30 years. Shel was always a believer in letting his work do the talking for him--few authors have ever done it better.

Customer Reviews

The tree gives unconditionally because it loves the boy.
Justin L. Nuckols
This popular children's book, a classic, is beautifully written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein.
Joy Bennett
This is a great book, which I read to my 3 years old son, and we both love it.
Joseph Essas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

354 of 381 people found the following review helpful By C. Quinn on August 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Giving Tree is a beautiful book about a tree who loves a little boy. In the beginning, the love the two share is enough to make them both happy. As the boy grows older, his needs change and the tree gives him everything in order to help him achieve happiness. When the boy is gone and the tree is left with nothing, she is happy, but not really. Eventually the boy returns and the tree has nothing left to give, but the boy has changed and no longer wants anything from the tree other than the companionship they once shared, and both are happy once again.
I fell in love with this book the first time it was read to me, and my feelings have never changed. As I child I knew it was a sad book, but I didn't know why. Now that I am an adult, I can understand the cost of unconditional love and I know why the tree was sad. The fact that this book inspires so much debate is a testament to the power of Shel Silverstein's writing. There is a lesson in this book and a powerful message. For me, the key point is that in the end, the love the tree had for the boy was vindicated by his return- older, wiser, and more appreciative. My mother bought me this book when I was young because she thought it had a poignant lesson to teach. My mother tells me that the tree is every mother, and that the sadness felt by the tree is the sadness every mother feels when her child grows up and grows apart. She says every mother's hope is that her child will return someday, wanting nothing more than to to sit together in silence and to be happy. Anyone who has ever loved someone enough to let them go will understand the painful choice highlighted in The Giving Tree.
I love this book and I give it to special people in my life to celebrate our friendship. I higly recommend this book to adult and child alike.
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552 of 636 people found the following review helpful By L'lee on November 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There are two extreme ways to interpret this book, as shown by the multiple ratings of 1 and 5.

The first: This is a beautiful and sad story of unconditional love between a tree and a boy, in which the tree is generous and gives of itself to help the boy whenever he is in trouble. The metaphor in this case is that of a mother and a child, or God and a human.

The second: This is a story of a very selfish boy and a tree who loves him. Whenever he is in trouble, he returns to the tree who gives him another part of her self without ever setting limits, even though it makes her sad (and physically damages her) to do so. In this case, you can compare the story to a metaphor of an abusive, codependent relationship.

I can understand both views of this story, but the fact that the second interpretation is just as valid as the first makes me hesitate to recommend this book. Personally, I would NOT buy this book as a gift, or for my own children. If I had this book, I would wait to read it to my children until they reach the recommended 10 years old (or at least 8), and then I would discuss the book and its concepts (selfishness, limit setting/saying NO) with them. "What did you think of this book?" "Do you think that the tree/the boy did the right thing?" "What would you have done differently if you were the tree/the boy?" "If you were the tree, would you have said 'NO' to the boy at any point?"

A story that may be complementary to this one and more appropriate for younger audiences is "Ladies First", also by Shel Silverstein (found in "A Light in the Attic" or "Free to Be, You and Me"), which is about a girl who always gets to be first to do everything, but in the end that is not to her advantage.
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88 of 101 people found the following review helpful By anjanette seewer-reynolds on December 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been a Shel Silverstein admirer since I first received Where the Sidewalk Ends as a first grader back in 1976. The way Silverstein combines stark sketches with punchy language and ideas could woo almost any child.

As with most of his work, what makes it funny or appealing is his ability to write about humans at their most vulnerable or disillusioned states (poems like "The Land of Happy," "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout," "Jumping Rope" come to mind), and kids love that raw edge to him. The Giving Tree, however, is surprisingly subversive. It looks purely sweet at first, seeming to be about a love between a tree and a boy, and the beauty of doing anything for someone you love.

But it is TRAGIC. The tree ends up with nothing (she's a stump for him to eventually sit on), and the boy ends up an unhappy and lonely old man who has exploited (devestated) something he once loved.

Now, thirty years after my first reading of it, I'm not sure where I stand. This book was meaningful to me as a child--there was complexity in it, in giving and taking and paying consequences (and the pictures evoked great emotion). On the other hand, an obvious and simple message it could send is that it is good to give (and to take) at all cost.

In the end, I don't think the book should be avoided, by any means, because of its seemingly "selfless" message, but I do think it should be discussed (even in simple terms with the smallest child) as an eye-opening rendering of the danger of giving too much and losing yourself in the process.
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