Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.
and the boy loved the tree, very much.
Uncle Shelby spent a lot of time in my house as I was growing up. I gobbled up his words. I read and reread his books so many times that I memorized them and could repeat them word for word, cover to cover. He was my first favorite author. I owned every one of his books, except The Giving Tree.
The Giving Tree was first published in 1964, but Silverstein had set his ink to paper long before that on this one. Silverstein penned the book in 1960 and offered it as a follow up to his initial 1963 children’s winner, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, but at the outset it was rejected by publishers.
“It will never sell.”
As Silverstein shopped the book to publisher after publisher, he heard these lines several times. The publishers feared that the complexities and true emotions of the book would hinder sales for children. And as well, that the quick poetic lines and sketched illustrations would stop adults from picking it up. However, Shel felt so proudly of the book; he knew that it plucked true heartstrings. He knew ultimately, everybody who read it, loved it.
Finally, after four years and a first success, Ursula Nordstrom finally offered to publish the book with Harper Collins.
Forty years later, the book has gone on to be one of his most successful.
In short, it is a book about human relationships, and unconditional love. The tree loves the boy, and the boy loves the tree. And the tree loves the boy so much, that she gives herself completely to the boy, and allows the boy to change her, and shape her, and cause her every transition. And the tree is happy; thankful for both what the boy has taken, and for what he has contributed.