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Book Review: The Giving Tree

Updated on June 9, 2011
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Dohn121 is a freelance writer who currently resides at the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains of New York's famed Hudson Valley.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

One of my favorite books of all time

Hopefully like me, you love to read. As a kid, my family didn't have much money. Buying new books was a luxury that we could not afford, especially in a family of five children. That was why when a friend of the family brought me to the public library in Westchester, NY to get me my first ever library card, I was ecstatic. I was about as ecstatic as a kid waking up on Christmas morning, except the gifts I would receive were limitless and so could not be counted. I would soon be walking through a garden with rows and rows of precious fruits and vegetables--all exotic and none at all without delicious tastes and all for my picking. Upon entering the library, the first thing that hit me was the smell. I loved the smell of the library: It was the welcoming combination of new carpet, old books and women's perfume that was somewhat fruity. Maybe it was the smell of happiness if happiness could have a smell that is, because surely that is what I was feeling. Seeing my name on that card which was about twice the thickness of an index card but smaller and with the small rectangular embossed metal plate inside it. Safe to say, it was one of the best presents I'd ever received. To me, my juvenile library card was a free lifetime pass to multiple dimensions of the imagination.

The First Library Book I Ever Borrowed

Maybe it was the green color that was attractive to me because I kind of like that color. Or maybe it was the way the Tree can mimic a human being, like on the front dust jacket as he is throwing the boy an apple (his first of several gifts). Looking back now, I'm not exactly sure why I chose this particular book out of so many other wonderful books, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. But this one book that I borrowed would be the first of many, many books to come. Being that I was so young, I was allowed to only borrow one book at a time. When I showed that I could be trusted to borrow more of the library's books, I was allowed more and more until one day my knapsack ripped from my having crammed so many books in over time. I ended up after that one setback, allowed only five per week. I was devastated but carried myself well under the dire circumstances.

The Moral of the Story

The biggest and most important moral of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is indeed self sacrifice. Whatever thing the boy needed from the tree, the boy got. By the book's end, as a final act of piety or charity, the tree serves as a stump for the boy to sit upon who, by this point, is no longer a boy but a frail old man. Notice how the boy's parents never show up in the story. Their whereabouts is a complete mystery to the reader. Or is it the Tree that is the parent? Well, then that would make a lot of sense. Heaven only knows how much a parent will sacrifice for their children and the pains they endure to make sure that their children are well fed, are clothed and are safe from harm. So under this very same premise, the Tree had, but the book's end, provided unconditionally for the Boy and is so the epitome of a true parent...Remember the line, "Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood?"

I Really Would If I Had the Money

I don't know how many times I've bought this book for a child for his or her birthday, Christmas, or even for the older the kids, Commencement. I genuinely feel that this is an important book to own and so should be passed on down through the generations. I have no kids as of yet, but I do have three nephews and a niece and they ALL have a copy. Sure, there are many wonderful children's books out there to give to children, but how many has a message as important as The Giving Tree? Indeed, this is one of the rare ones. If I had the money, I'd go around and give this book to every household that has a kid. It may well change their lives as it did mine. The book's message is clear today as it was the day I borrowed it from my local public library and probably more so. This book will be enjoyed for many more years to come.

Watch the entire Giving Tree Movie Here

The Giving Tree On Sale


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