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06 April 2007


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Dammit, now I have to add another shirt to my order. Awesome.

Brian F.

I sort of fall in the middle. I WANT it to be a beautiful story about unconditional love but I keep coming away with a cautionary tale about co-dependence and how it will eat you alive.


Aw, sad. I'm the opposite -- I want it to be a cautionary tale. But even it he did write it as one (and the look on the face of the Old Man on the Stump sure isn't happy), most people* seem to read it as beautiful and touching.

If it was a CT, I wonder if he thought the response to it was funny or irritating.

*"Most people" being the Drunk College Kids who would come into the bookstore and moon about it. Yick.

Fuse #8

I don't think I've ever wanted anything in my life as much as I want that shirt right now. Nothing comes close. Air. Food. Water. Nothing.

Kelly Fineman

I am so with you on this one.


I agree! That book's always creeped me out. I prefer to give Runny Babbit.

Brian F.

If Silverstein wrote it as a cautionary tale about co-dependence, I'm sure he was HIGHLY amused that people thought it was touching.

In fact, now that you've brought it up, I'm convinced that was his intent. I can't read this story as anything other than "If you don't learn how to eject the dead weight in your life, they're going to keep taking without giving and leave you a hollow stump."


This was a PRIME children's story tale when I was a kid at VBS, and I gotta tell ya -- it freaked me out completely. I have never liked this one, and have always felt really guilty over it.

Thank you for hating it with me!!!


I wonder if people will throw things at me if I wear it?
I wonder if I want to talk to all the people who *LOVE IT* if I wear it?

Ah, controversy!


This T-shirt has convinced me that you and I are kindred spirits, and you are now going on my links list! (I also really like your review of A Brief Chapter etc.)

Lady S

I am with Erin. I like the Tree well enough, but I WAY prefer Runny Babbit. As does my Peetie Swie.


I hate that book so much, I returned all the copies I received at our baby shower. I mean, I am all for unconditional love, but I cannot encourage my child to be such a greedy, thoughtless, ungrateful...okay, I'll stop, but needless to say, I love the shirt and plan to order one eventually.

david elzey

From what I've read of Uncle Shleby's life and philosophy, the man lived in this world and called them as he saw them. What I see is a little social commentary on how we raise boys in this culture to be selfish and demanding and uncaring from cradle to grave. It's been the same since 1964 and the fact that a great many people view this book as sweet and loving and "meaningful" (most popular children's book given as a gift at my high school graduation, alongside "The Velveteen Rabbit") only underscores that we still don't get it.

There is no happiness, and Shel knows it.

Elaine Magliaro

Love that T-shirt!!! I'm with you on THE GIVING TREE. Why is the book so popular??? Can't figure that out.
Now...could you make a snarky T-shirt for LOVE YOU FOREVER? Maybe get a touch of Freud or Oedipus into the text?


So funny. I just overheard a conversation in a yarn shop yesterday where the yarn ladies were discussing their "favorite books ever" and several of them mentioned The Giving Tree. Gaaack! I am with the haters. It's creepy. (Their number two mention was Where the Wild Things Are, which is fine but not in my personal top 100 either.)


Awesome. I've gotta say, the end of the Giving Tree always bothered me, too. Small children know, stump=dead tree. How is that a happy ending??

Kim McCollum-Clark

Thank YOU, Leila!! I have felt like a curmudgeonly old crone for YEARS for hating this book. IT is VILE!!! I "see" what I am supposed to think of it, but I NEVER can buy it. It has never been in my house, and I diss it EVERY SEMESTER to horrified English-teacher-to-be undergraduates who fear for my mental health. THANK YOU for sharing your view. It's so nice to find some kindred spirits.

Oh, and I am with you on Lee Scoresby too. I bawled, in public, when I read about his and Hester's death.



I just stumbled upon your site looking for bookshelves.. and your tshirt caught my eye and made me laugh.
I am SO with you on that one! Most people think I'm crazy for saying it shouldn't be named The Giving Tree, but The Selfish Boy.
Same with the book "I'll Love You Forever". Story of love or a psycho mom? Hmmm...

Wendie Old

When the Giving Tree was first published, I reviewed it for our 25 branch library system. I rejected it with the note -- Let's call it "Let's Take from the Tree" and be done with it. Then I retired to have children. I stopped by the local library branch after my child was born and discovered that it had been purchased by the library system. Because it was on the Required Reading Lists of the local Catholic schools. Being that those were the years when the Catholic church had a long list of books that children (and other people) were forbidden to read, the powers-that-be overruled my rejection of the book to give those kids at least something available that they were allowed to read.

(plus it was touted as such a good example to little girls about how mothers are supposed to give and give with no thought for themselves.) yuck.

Love his poetry books. Hate his picture books. Never have read his articles in playboy.
Hurrah for your t-shirt!
-wendie old, librarian and writer

Brent Hartinger

It's a joke, people. Shel Silverstein is having us all on. I guarantee it. Biggest joke on popular culture of all time.


I love it! I remember being HORRIFIED as a kid in the 70's when this book was read to me. Martyrdom and needless sacrifice as virtues? great shirt :)


Leila, you have done it again! Perfect perfect perfect.


I preferred The Missing Piece. I have a lingering fondness for Shel, but Tree makes my bones itch.

A Paperback Writer

I just wandered onto this blog and the first thing I saw was this shirt!
I have HATED that stupid book for as long as I can remember! I've been forced to listen to it in grade school and in church classes a lifetime, as it's been talked about by people who believe that anything sad is uplifting. I've always felt that this book was sickening and more about taking than giving.
Well, I know I can visit this blog again!
Nice tee.


I've wanted that t-shirt SO MUCH ever since I saw it. AFAIK you're not selling them any more? :(


I recently had a ceremonial burning of my copy of The Giving Tree when I moved into a new home with a fireplace.

Actually, it wasn't my copy. It was the copy I gave to my husband-to-be when we were dating. I inscribed in the front -- "May you never grow up."

Boy, was I ever asking for it! When he turned 40, he had a midlife crisis and left me. He wants to take all my branches and apples and for me to be happy about that. Not gonna happen!

I am, however, quite happy about him going far away in his quest for happiness, because I have what I need to be happy right here. If he ever does decide to remember our good years together and come back, he's going to find a flourishing and fruit-bearing tree who will be happy to see him, but who is not going to give any part of herself away. Okay, time to stop with the metaphor... But let's just say it was really fun to burn that book!

custom t-shirts

Great the giving tree t-shirt looks awesome, need to buy one.

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