I'm not sure what I can say about this classic story of love and selfishness, generosity and greed, neediness and co-dependency that hasn't already been said a thousand times.
I guess all I can do is share my own responses to this book.
The Giving Tree was first published in 1964.
Right from the start it created controversy and a love/hate relationship amongst it's readers.
The first time I read this book I almost sobbed out loud. I was an adult; a preschool teacher wondering if this was a book I could read aloud with my classes.
The page that still gets me, even now after multiple rereadings, is when the boy takes away the tree's trunk
"And the tree was happy...but not really."
The end always surprises me after that.
I always expect some growth or change in the characters.
Instead the book ends as it starts...with a tree that loves a little boy (and who would do anything for him).......
and a boy who loves the tree very much (with the expectation that the tree will always be there for him no matter what).
I was curious to see the many reviews referring to the environmental message of the book. In 18 years of teaching, not one child ever talked about the environment. It was always about the relationships.
Curiously many of the five year olds I taught felt sympathy for the tree. (I say curiously because so many of the reviews talk about the fear they have that children see themselves as the boy).
My classes were usually horrified that the boy had taken everything from her.
One insightful comment mentioned that the old man was still the boy - he looked like an old man but he was still just a boy.
Many of my classes told me that the boy was mean.
But invariably, the children who asked to be read the book over and over again were the children with mother issues.
Mothers who were distant, difficult, dead, deserted or drugged. It was like they were seeking comfort in the all-giving, all-nurturing, unconditional love of the tree even as they knew that that kind of relationship was impossible, unrealistic and unhealthy.
For me this book is a classic.
It's timeless; it speaks to people across all ages, gender and backgrounds; it creates strong feelings; it deals with big issues - personal issues that cause people to stop and reflect on their own lives, opinions and beliefs and it is beautifully written.
I've linked this post to ...off on my tangent's...Alphabe-Thursday meme.