I remember it like it was 6 minutes ago. The first time I picked up a copy of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree when I was in first grade. The cover intrigued me; a young boy like myself, reaching up high towards a tree dropping fruit. The second I got home, I read the whole thing in what seemed like a minute. Sure, the pages didn’t have that many words written on them, but that didn’t matter. The few words that were written on each page were more meaningful and inspiring than anything I would ever read in the years that follow. I don’t think even James Joyce himself wrote anything so powerful.
The Giving Tree tells the story of a young boy who befriends a tree. The tree loves the boy, and the boy loves the tree back. They are the best of friends. But then some time goes by. The boy grows up and becomes interested in other things. First, a girlfriend, and it is then when he adds her initials to the carving of his own placed years prior on his old friend the tree. The boy spends less and less time with the tree.
At one point, the boy comes back a man and begs the tree for all of her fruit. And the tree obliges simply out of love. The boy then takes the fruit and sells it, leaving the tree on her own for the next few years.
And the boy comes back, once more a little older, and begs the tree for her branches. Then, even more years later, he ends up taking her trunk, leaving her nothing but a stump with initials. But, the tree’s love for the boy is so strong, she obliges without haste.
Years and years pass by and the boy returns an old man, just barely able to move. The tree says, “I have nothing much to offer you boy but a nice hard seat.” The boy finally sits down on the tree and it’s obvious that it is there he will rest until his days end. The tree is happy.
I’ve read this book, which disguises itself as a simple children’s story, more times than I can count. Every time I read it, I see more and more to its meaning, and fall in love it with it more. If you’ve never read it, or if you haven’t read it since you were small, put down that Clancy or Koontz shit and return to your roots. It’ll punch you in the face with its goodness. Too bad Shel Silverstein isn’t around anymore to grace us with such wonderful words. Here is to you, Shel. May you be sitting on the tree’s stump for all eternity.
The Giving Tree Tribute (7/2008)
So yeah, this picture isn’t too good. It was done with Microsoft Paint, a program not as superior as Illustrator. Sorry for its terribleness.