Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Giving Tree Week: Day #1 by Niki Barnes

Today starts a very special week in the history of my meager little blog.  It's The Giving Tree Week.  I have asked several guests to post about this controversial book and give their opinion on it.  I am fascinated by how this one book can inspire both love and hatred in people and I wanted to examine the divergent feelings more closely.  Here is the first post:

This post is by 
Niki Barnes- She is a 2nd grade teacher, mom and proud (library) card carrying member of the Nerdy Book Club.  
Find more of her writing on her excellent blog right here.

I don’t know about you….But I have adored Shel Silverstein’s books since I was a child. The Giving Tree is by far one of my all time favorite picture books….ever. This book had me at “Hello”. Well maybe not hello…. but the dedication is made out to me (for Nicky)! Shel did spell my name wrong however…. but I have forgiven him.

As a child, I loved how much the tree really does care for the boy. Now that I am a mom I understand how the tree feels. I know first hand the unconditional love you can feel for your child. So I was shocked to learn that not everyone is a fan of The Giving Tree. EEK! It appears that you either love this book or hate it. Is the tree selfless and giving or just a doormat? Or should we say just a stump and a place for a boy to put his rump?

Well, regardless of the haters….I love this book so much I was recently thinking about getting a tattoo of The Giving Tree on my person! I know. Crazy, right? Well, I am not alone….it turns out that Ryan Gosling is also a huge fan and has the tattoo to prove it!

Hey Girl, ignore the haters. I love The Giving Tree too!

It turns out that everyone has an opinion on The Giving Tree. In fact, even the characters in two of my favorite books have weighed in.

One For The Murphys is a beautiful book that I encourage everyone to read. The main character Carley is complex and spunky. You will fall in love with her as well as the other characters in Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s book. The characters in the One For The Murphys have varying views on the book The Giving Tree. So you will have to read the book to find out more…. but here are some of Carley’s thoughts about the book the first time she reads it:

The Giving Tree,” I read aloud. It is about a tree and a boy. Simple enough. But every page annoys me more than the last. It’s dumb. The tree in the book is so nice, no matter how much a twit the boy is. Why would a tree do that?

Why indeed? And I think how you answer that question will determine if you love The Giving Tree or hate it.

Another book I love from 2012 is Every Day by David Levithan. It is a page turning, heart wrenching and fascinating story about the character A who is in a different body….well, every day. The character A in Every Day is even less of a fan of The Giving Tree than Carley from One For The Murphys. I know you probably didn’t think that was possible. But it’s true!  Rhiannon is A’s love interest in Every Day and they talk playfully about their dislike of The Giving Tree:

Rhiannon: I absolutely hate The Giving Tree.

A: That kid is like the jerk of the century.

Rhiannon: The biggest jerk in the history of literature.

A: Love means never having to lose your limbs.

Rhiannon: Exactly.

I just want to say, with out hopefully giving anything away about Every Day that I really want to talk to the author David Levithan about The Giving Tree. I want to know how he feels about the book and the ending of his own book Every Day.

Apparently even my own four year old son is a critic of my favorite book. Recently, I found him coloring in our copy of The Giving Tree. He said sweetly, “I wanted to make it more beautiful mom!” In my son’s defense I can see how the illustrations in the book do look like coloring pages.

Well, I know that The Giving Tree is a beloved book but it sure feels like it is me and Ryan Gosling against the world. That’s okay Ryan….as long as I know someone understands me….I’ll keep giving The Giving Tree my love.

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