You knew the review on a picture book was coming, right?
I absolutely and positively LOVE picture books. Sometimes I feel as though I get more meaning out of reading a 20 page picture book than reading a 500 page novel.
This book was written by Shel Silverstein, one of the more prominent writers in children's literature. His books always have a hidden meaning behind them ... a lesson to be learned. This book was first published in 1964 and it is one that I read to my students every year. This book definitely has staying power.
In essence, this story is about a boy who is friends with a tree. This tree gives the boy everything that he asks for without expecting or wanting anything in return. As the boy grows older, his time with the tree is less frequent, and he finds himself going to the tree ONLY when he needs something. In the end, the tree is reduced to a mere stump. When the boy returns, a wary old man, the tree is sad that it has nothing left to offer. When the boy/man says he just wants a place to rest ... the tree offers its stump, pleased that it can at least offer that.
This is a story of unconditional love and generosity. The tree loves the boy so dearly that it will give everything it has, just to see the boy happy. One might compare the relationship that the boy and the tree have as that of a parent and its child. Like a parent, the tree embraces this boy, even when he grows up and spends less time with it. The tree is never bitter that the boy doesn't spend more time with it ... it is just happy with the time it is given.