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From Barnes & NobleShel Silverstein takes a poignant and gentle look at the art of giving and the concept of unconditional love in his deeply profound children's book The Giving Tree. The story tells of the relationship between a young boy and a tree. Giving the boy what he wants is what makes the tree happy, a function it serves throughout the boy's life. First the tree is a place for the boy to play and munch on apples, later its branches serve as a source of lumber to build a house, and later still, its trunk provides the wood for a boat. By the time the boy has become an old man, he has used so much of what the tree has to give that all that remains is a stump. Yet all the old man needs at this point is a place to sit and rest, a function the stump nicely -- and happily -- serves.
Silverstein's drawings are deceptively simple -- black-and-white line sketches that leave plenty of white space on the page -- yet each illustration demonstrates a subtlety of emotion and change that is as captivating as it is basic. The gradual loss of the tree's various parts makes for a strong visual message. By the time the tree reaches the stump stage, the stark drawing is a perfect companion for the accompanying words: "And the tree was happy...but not really." The Giving Tree can be read over and over again, for a child's understanding of its message will likely change as the child grows. Although this isn't a colorful, fun-filled, happy-themed book, its message is a profound one that will likely inform and impress children for generations to come.