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The Giving Tree Hardcover – 1964

4.5 out of 5 stars 2,318 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row (1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060256664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060256661
  • ASIN: B004R64766
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,091,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
35 Comments 508 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
5 Comments 141 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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51 Comments 694 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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