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Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree - Like a Granny's Heart

Updated on May 27, 2016

My Review of "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein began The Giving Tree by introducing the tree that is the heroine of the story.

This female designated figure embodies the spirit of giving, such as that typically embodied in the persona of a much loved grandmother.

He imbued her with heart, as he tells us on the second page of text, by writing that the tree "loved a little boy."

Right away our perspective is altered. This is not the story from the little boy's point of view, relieving it from the duty of speaking primarily to children, thus narrowing the tunnel of focus to tiny minds alone.

When the author introduces the boy, as a character, he delineates the child's many solitary uses of the tree, long before we read the boy's heart, as the author says: "And the boy loved the tree very much."

We get the picture that the boy's love for the tree is based on what he gets out of the relationship, a truly childlike perspective. But Silverstein punctuates the introduction with an indication that this tale isn't to be a one-way story.

The Giving Tree - a lovely gift

The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree

This book continues to impact my heart. It's a wonderful way to share love and life with children.


Love Like a Tree Loves

The boy loved the tree like a child loves, for what's in it for himself, unable to view his world as separate from his desires.

Life progressed and the boy lost his interest in childlike play, and transferred his love for the magnanimous tree to objects of his pubescent infatuation.

The tree continued to welcome her pal, for his infrequent visits, whatever his intention. She offered up her fruit for the boy to sell so he could buy the things of the world, in his search for satisfaction.

His needs grew ever larger, yet he still returned to the tree for succor, ever willing to take from her, as if she were water freely flowing from a running faucet. His vision was still small, wearing the garment of plunder.

Satisfaction can be an oddball condition, transitory, no matter how splendid its onset the last time it glazed the seeker. Our boy tested its limits regularly. Each time he felt the next new great urge, he had no qualms about taking, once again.

The granny tree perked up each time the boy showed her his need, even to the point of sacrificing parts of her very self. Once wasn't enough for the boy, now a man, to prioritize his need over the tree's very life, but the Giving Tree still gave.

A once happy boy returned, finally, in resignation, and the tree gave her remains, unconditionally.

In my opinion, no parent could read this book to a child, without a huge stirring of remembrance within. The Giving Tree introduces the complexities of giving and taking, and the higher concept of unconditional love - it's place in the nature of living things.

The Giving Tree's Place on My Bookshelf

I received The Giving Tree as a remembrance from a love interest, upon hearing the news of Shel Silverstein's passing. It was a complicated relationship, not unlike that of the boy and the granny tree. It is a precious book, to me, as a reminder of the part giving plays in love, and taking plays in use.

Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Edition - Poems and Drawings

Silverstein Told Publishers' Weekly

“What I do is good. I wouldn't let it out if I didn't think it was.”

Shel Silverstein Shared His Heart

A LIght in the Attic

A Light in the Attic Special Edition with 12 Extra Poems
A Light in the Attic Special Edition with 12 Extra Poems

Silverstein's special knack for combining words evokes a sense of delight in readers of all ages. I love the thought provoking humor!


Sheldon Allen Silverstein was born in Chicago on September 25, 1930, and suffered a heart attack leading to his death on May 8th or 9th, 1999. He shared his gifts, primarily through his children's books and poetry. His legacy is enhanced by his work as a songwriter and playwright.

He stepped into his career untrained in the arts of writing, developing and innovating into his unique style. Poetry first attracted his as a respite from voluntary seclusion when he was junior high school age. Silverstein lacked a knack for sports, so he retreated into words..

While serving in the Armed Services of the United States, during the 1950s Koren War, he gained acclaim from the quality of the cartoons he produced for the Army's Pacific Star & Stripes magazine.

His career included a stint with Playboy Magazine after his military service ended. During this period, in the 60s, he wrote books such as Playboy's Teevee Jeebies, and by 1964 he turned to writing for children.

The enduringly popular The Giving Tree was published in 1964, after having been previously rejected for failing to fit into solely a children's or adult's category. He subsequently was lionized for numerous writings.

Selected Book Awards

1974 Where the Sidewalk Ends> - New York Times Outstanding Book Award, 1981 Michigan Young Readers' Award, 1981 George G. Stone Award

1981 A Light In the Attic - 1981 Best Books, School Library Journal, 1983, 1985 Buckeye Awards, 1984 George G. Stone Award, 1984 William Allen White Award

1982 The Missing Piece Meets the Big O - International Reading Association Children's Choice Award

The Giving Tree Movie - narrated by the author

A Place to Put Down Your Thoughts About "The Giving Tree"

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      @Ruthi: You're so right. The book was a gift from a friend in my adult years, and it is a pleasure to catch a glimpse of the cover.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 4 years ago

      It has been many years since I read The Giving Tree and I do need to watch that movie again. I love the place on your bookshelf for Silverstein's book, surely a reminder of its treasure and a smile each time you see it.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 5 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I read this book many years you've inspired me to read it again. Lovely story.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Every time I read this story, I cry. The Giving Tree is truly a gift.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your Review of "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. I enjoyed it.

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 5 years ago

      Been quite awhile since I read it, but I did enjoy at the time.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      Such a lovely book; it's a perfect gift!

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      I've always loved this book, and think it is a great gift - for both the young, and the old.