Alt-ending to Shel Silverstein's 'The Giving Tree': Tree sets boundaries

I liked the book and always felt so sorry for the tree, who gave everything, and the human, who took it all.


I’d argue it’s only censorship if the original is diminished. There’s no way this version will ever be as popular as the original. Shel will abide and this work will exist alongside it. Nothing is lost unless people obliterate the original.

In other words, the existence of Weird Al does not mean people forget who Michael Jackson was.


yeah, fidelity to the authors intent glorifies the individual (as a “heroic” artist) at the expense of society.


Right? Why are so many people imagining that the original is destroyed because some way less famous person essentially pasted pages in a copy of it and some people on the internet like it? It boggles my mind how people are so afraid to play with art that they think something as famous as The Giving Tree is “erased” somehow by this. The original exists. It will always be more famous and popular than this.


LOL, no one defaced anything. Fan fiction isn’t a crime. But if you want to presume to be offended on Silverstein’s behalf, it’s your grievance. :man_shrugging:

It hasn’t been erased. :roll_eyes:


Aside from that I agree with the rest of what you wrote.


“The Giving Tree” as a choose-your-own-adventure! I’m in!


Upon raising children of my own, I’ve found this book a pretty good parable for parenthood. Only when I became a parent did I experience the feeling that I would sacrifice myself for the happiness of another being.

The little boy is demanding, and greedy, and self-centered, and ultimately remorseful and weary and alone, and just wants comfort. I found this book depressing until I had kids. I know people find this a problematic book, but I swear it reduced me to knowing tears over the many bedtime reads.

See also: the very last chapter of the Winnie the Pooh stories, where Christopher Robin is growing up. I can’t even make it through that one aloud any more.


Oh god. And he says he and the bear will always be together and you know they won’t. Nope. My mum couldn’t read it to me. I couldn’t read it to my kids.

The Cat in the Hat. though? That guy needs therapy.


No, you’re crying. :sob:



All art is built on that which precedes it. All art is also, to some degree, a commentary on all the art that came before it. Satire is art. Remixing is art.

To say that The Giving Tree is somehow above reproach or examination is silly. I love that book and have carried my copy through life since I was given it as a child. However I also love these updates. Both are valuable and important art to me in different ways.

The only hubris is declaring what shall and shan’t be done with art.


Children’s books are a great tool for parenting. They not only encourage reading and thinking, but can be great jumping-off points for conversation. Shel Silverstein was a favorite of the kid’s, and we had a lot of conversations about his poems. They have the mix of realness and silliness that fit her personality.
That being said, my copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales has penciled-in alternate endings. 4 year old kid’s bedtime reading shouldn’t include hearing that the villainess got her comeuppance by being nailed into a cask and dragged behind a horse. When she was a tween, she read the book and was surprised at the bloody endings.


Uh oh, I feel a rabbit-hole of investigation on this is about to eliminate any and all work productivity until lunchtime.


I have no problem with satire, critique, or any other art building on other art. Yes, art builds on what precedes it. If he had treated it as a new work, it would be interesting. What I was commenting on was the idea that he was not just creating a derivative work, but “fixing” the original by encouraging people to paper over their original pages with his own pages that he thinks have a better message. He is encouraging people to think of the original as broken, and needing replacement with a more palatable version. To me, that evokes images of art that is too controversial being papered over by people who are uncomfortable with the thoughts or feelings the art evinces. It is the “fixing” and “papering over” aspect that bothered me. I am a supporter of all kinds of art, and there is nothing wrong with being controversial. I prefer controversy to be discussed rather than papered over.

In this case, it is also the idea that because the ending is sad, and that it illustrates an unfair relationship, that somehow that makes it too much for kids to handle, and it needs to be “fixed” by giving it a happy ending. It is a cautionary tale. I’m defending art, and the artist’s choices, not attacking art.


To be clear, you have a problem with folks making a choice to do what they like with a book that they own? Because we’re not talking about authority forcing these individuals to make these changes.

My partner carved out a copy of a “twilight” book to turn it into a hidden gift box, because she knew I would have zero interest in the original topic and be throughly rattled by receiving it as a gift. Presumably this is ok by you because the intention wasn’t to read it. But, what if instead she had painstakingly gone through the book, whited out the name of one of the characters to replace it with “pedophile”. Would that qualify as “defacing someone else’s art”, and therefore shouldn’t be permitted (or appropriately chastized) under your system or permitted transformations of art?


No, that’s not what I am saying at all. It’s yours, you can do anything you want with it. I like that, it’s very creative and personal, and both of you know what is going on. A more apt analogy would be what if she decided that there were passages in the book that made her uncomfortable because they talked about vampires sucking blood. She rewrote the passages to say vampires don’t suck blood, they give people daisies, because that wasn’t as scary to her. Then she started encouraging parents all over to paste over the pages of their kids’ Twilight books with her passages that say vampires give daisies, and hide the traces of vampires sucking blood. Of course she CAN do it, and the parents CAN do it if they want to. But it changes the artistry of the books, and loses the mix of fear and eroticism and emotion that made the original books interesting. I would say that is not a good thing to do, because it throws out some key aspects of vampires, and the author’s intentions, and the kids should be allowed to read it in its original form, rather than having their parents distort their view of the original material. If she wanted to sell them a book called “Twilight Daisies” that she wrote, then to me that is transparent and not a problem. My thought is that if you (e.g. a parent or teacher) are presenting someone (e.g. a child or student) over whom you have power, with a work to read or look at it, then you shouldn’t first remove the essence of that artist’s statement. I don’t think it is right to present it as the original work, but “fixed”. I am not talking about what is legal or not, or what is permitted or not, I am talking about what is true to the artist’s intentions. Yes, it is a matter of personal judgement about what constitutes the essence of an artist’s work, and whether it is true to the artist’s intentions, and that is certainly a legitimate debate. My feeling is that changing the ending from a sad cautionary tale into a happy, preachy one, isn’t fixing it, it is creating a different thing, and probably one that has less impact.

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Have you ever bought a textbook on the used market that was prehilighted by a reader who intuited all the wrong lessons from it?


I’m a guy and it never set well with me as a kid. I certainly did not have the sophistication to pick up on the women angle conciously but I had a deep disslike for the utterly useless parasite kid.

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This is a very particular hill you’re choosing to die on, but hey- you do you.