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The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody Hardcover – October 19, 2010

47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This isn't the first parodic tweak of Shel Silverstein's classic, but it certainly sets a new standard of blithe snarkiness. "The tree was his best friend," writes the nom-de-plumed Travesty of the bratty protagonist. "Which shows what a loser the kid was." The tree, which frankly hates the child (who only gets meaner with age), feels hostage to his selfish and often criminal bidding ("he couldn't get away from him. She was a tree"). Blisteringly sarcastic throughout (when the boy asks for the tree's apples to pay for college, she responds, "I'm an oak tree.... When have you ever seen me grow apples?"), the tree finally embraces the full meaning of "passive-aggressive. "he took the kid's credit cards and ordered a bunch of DVDs she had no intention of watching. And she took the kid's cell phone and called the cops." Debut illustrator Cummins's deadpan cartooning never flags (one visual joke takes aim at the 2008 Republican presidential ticket); her addition of a scraggly and highly expressive mouth to the beleaguered tree's otherwise featureless trunk makes the fear and loathing even funnier. All ages. (Oct.) (c)
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From School Library Journal

K-Gr 2–In this parody of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree (HarperCollins, 1964), the relationship between the tree and the boy is not as loving this time around. The boy is “a real jerk” whom the tree detests. He pokes his sister with twigs, throws acorns at old people, and takes leaves from the tree and sets them on fire. Each time the kid goes away–usually to jail–the tree is happy. And it is not so willing to sacrifice itself for someone who, as he grows older, is never satisfied. “Are you out of your mind?” it asks. “You took everything you could take. And I can't take it anymore!” While ultimately the tree fares no better, those who were disturbed by the original version will appreciate that the boy's outcome is equally grim. Charcoal illustrations evoke Silverstein's style, with watercolor accents to brighten the pages. While adults are the typical audience for parodies, children who enjoy stories a bit off-kilter will find this one intriguing. As fans of Roald Dahl know, seeing the truly evil get their comeuppance makes for a satisfying book.–Suzanne Myers Harold, Multnomah County Library System, Portland, ORα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Lexile Measure: 440L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442407638
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442407633
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Harford on October 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Portraying the relationship in Shel Silverstein's classic "The Giving Tree" as one-sided and selfish isn't new, but I've never seen it done with this much charm and humor. Every page had something to make me laugh or smile, from the body language of the frustrated tree to the final, hilariously creepy end note.

If you liked (or simply have an opinion about) the source material, you'll probably enjoy "The Taking Tree" very much.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on November 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a staple of school, library, and home bookshelves around the world, Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree has generated lively discussions for decades about why a selfless tree would keep giving to a child who gave nothing in return. Now Shrill Travesty's The Taking Tree has given readers some bitingly sarcastic insight into the motives of the boy and the tree. The boy is pure evil, using the tree's acorns to whip at old people when he was little and stripping the tree of all its branches to build a house when he became a greedy businessman, only to burn the house down for the insurance money. The tree hates the boy from the start and later gets even.

Just as the original Giving Tree offered parents and teachers the opportunity to talk with children about wants versus needs, this follow-up parody encompasses the same lesson, albeit with a heavy dose of cynicism, a touch of political satire, and a stroke of humor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Louise on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
OK.
This book is not suited for out loud classroom reading but is still just great to own.
I've read it out loud to my boys, ages 7-10, and they totally crack up.
Of course, they have read it on their own, too.
So, we now own both the "Giving Tree" and "Taking Tree".
It is a little "crass" at times but it's what a parody is about.
And, it is a very funny way to drive home what a parody is.
But, everyone has different tastes, so...
Try borrowing it at the library first -- if you like it, then buy it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
In economics the "Laffer Curve" plots tax rates and how they affect tax revenue. (The argument is that as rates get too high then people stop working and tax revenue actually decreases). Anyway, this book illustrates something we should call the "Laugher Curve". Just plot how much you dislike Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" to determine how much you'll like this book. I suggest that if there were no "The Giving Tree" and you just read this book in a vacuum you'd conclude it had a few clever lines, but wasn't all that great. Given all the great but pricey kids books out there I don't think this is a book I'd actually buy for a kid. It is a book I would read, though, out of curiosity. And, once you know how much you dislike "The Giving Tree" you'll know how much you'll like this. Just read all of the other reviews. The number of stars awarded by each reviewer pretty much corresponds to how strongly the reviewer expresses a dislike of "The Giving Tree".

I'm not a fan of "The Giving Tree". I think the message is weird. I thought this book was a welcome antidote, and it helped me see that I am not the only person who doesn't get the appeal of The Giving Tree.

So, there it is. Science at work. You're welcome.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Sheedy on November 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I never read The Giving Tree when I was a kid. Maybe it wasn't published yet? Maybe it was too metaphysical for my straight-laced New England town? I don't know. Then I had kids and it was presented reverentially to my children in various classes. I thought, okay, I'm all about literature. Then I read it. Then my husband read it. Then we said this is a silly, sad, pointless book. I know this isn't the first parody, but I think it's the best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aaron D Hallstrom on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife and I loved reading this book together. It made us laugh during each page! If you liked the great message from "The Giving Tree", then you'll crack up when reading this spoof. I even bought this book for my parents and in-laws as one of their Christmas gifts this year!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By stephanie falls on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a child I loved The Giving Tree. I even bought a copy for my oldest daughter. Anyone who liked The Giving Tree and has a sense of humor will love this book! I laughed from cover to cover!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By captsolo on April 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I always thought the kid in the Giving Tree was a selfish jerk. This is a great version of that story
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