When I read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, I loathed it. A lot of that reaction came from comparing the contents to all the recommendations of the book. The more I learn about Silverstein, though, the less I think he would have appreciated the straightforward praise for his story. I’m pretty sure, however, that he would have appreciated Mallory Ortberg‘s retelling.
Once there was a tree
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns
and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk
and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And the apples stained his mouth a strange color
and it wasn’t green and it wasn’t red
and the stain wouldn’t go away
no matter how much his mother scrubbed his mouth
after he’d eaten them
(she loved the little boy very much)
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
(she loved him best when he was asleep)
(he never woke up with quite the same color eyes)
(and his mother hated to hug him after he came home from the tree)
(though she could never explain why)
And the boy loved the tree, very much.