Post first published in my personal newsletter
Recommendation by: Kelly Ehlers
I LOVE chopping down trees, and let's face it, it's a Tree, so who really cares. With this in mind I do have to say. I like this particular tree very much. this story does for nature, what Toy Story 3 does for Toys, and the art is ON POINT!
The author, Shel Silverstein is a huge part of my childhood and probably yours too. It wasn't until this week I realized this is the same illustrator/artist who wrote "Where The Side Walk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic." These two books were essentials as a kid, for backyard camping, and now I realize why I liked this book so much.
It's easy to say this story is good, well written, and illustrated with design in mind. knowing this author's track record that is obvious, but let's discuss HOW GOOD IT IS!
The first thing you need to know is, this is a love story. Not love as in girlfriend boyfriend but Love on a more basic level. This allows the story to be about the basic parts of love, CARING FOR ONE, MORE than yourself. This is most commonly seen in parents. The book explains how anyone can share that love with another.
There are three parts to love:
Intimacy – attached, close, connected
Passion – sexual attraction (Not for this type of relationship)
Commitment – shared decisions, sacrifice
This book focuses on the importance of Commitment and Intimacy
The boy is a love suck:
looking at this book it's easy to see the tree is the more giving of the two. It is easy to see the tree loves the boy and would do anything for him, but does the boy love the tree?
At first, I wasn't sure if the boy loved the tree at all. He is very selfish and unwilling to do what is important for the tree. He does not work to love in return. He simply sucks the love from the tree. He either loves the tree or just depends on it. I really can't tell, but the boy lacks commitment. He is very intimate with the tree and loves spending time with the tree. but to be honest, unless you are a kid with his or her parent, thats really not enough.
Just because the boy loves the tree does not mean he is doing the right thing. Relationships of every kind take work. The tree was doing its part by being there for the boy and helping him when he needed it, even giving of itself for the betterment of the boy but the boy does not sacrifice for what he loves. he simply takes.
Now Because the tree has given to this boy his whole life, the boy relies on the tree for everything. To be honest, I don't think this is fair on either side
The Tree is an enabler:
This tree may seem like the nicest damn tree on the planet, but it has it's fair share of problems too. Let's say the tree is your mother. Imagine a mother who gives to their kids to this extent. it's actually really crazy. I have known situations like this and have seen this story happen. I have seen old men living in the homes of their parents. No joke, both are seriously content with it.... I'm not saying that's a problem, but it's not for me... and it's not accepted by society. so.... I don't know... it's weird.
The first thing you see with this book is it's brilliant apple green cover with red accent. I have mentioned before that I love simplicity with both design and illustration. and I know I mentioned kids probably don't care about those things. but looking at this cover makes me realize I might be extremely wrong. I know for a fact I liked this cover along with all of the authors covers as a kid. this book STANDS OUT ON SHELVES because of its simplicity. Probably a part of the reason it sells so well.
The one thing you can absolutely not miss is Shea's enormous, scary photo on the back. I only can assume he has done this on purpose, but his photo is super creepy. I don't know what his reasoning is for this but you do have to admit it goes with the style of his writing.
The Interior Illustrations
inside they take it even further with the simplicity. I have said before, Kids like color. I don't think this is an exception, but I do know, despite an absence of color Shel Silverstein's illustrations are some of the most interesting I have seen. Maybe I'm bias here but I know they are good.
overall this is no short of a masterpiece when it comes to kids books. and that's no simple feat. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good story for their kids. It teaches kids to love. It shows the importance of Commitment and Intimacy along with many other life lessons. if you have not read this to your kid, get to the library and get this one.... better yet,
Designer & Illustrator