‘Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.’
So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.
Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.
This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
The Apple Tree had a relatively boring life before the boy moved into the cabin hidden behind the hill. She liked the animals that lived in her branches, but this boys seemed to love her. He’d always marvel over her apples, and carefully climb as high as he could in her branches. Every summer he would come to the cabin, and the tree would look forward to his visits.
Then he grew older. Once he came with a friend. After a time spent clambering through the tree, his friend pulled out a sharp metal object, hacking at one of the trees smaller branches. The tree was shocked at the exquisite pain that came from the tiny knife, but her boy didn’t make a comment. Instead he took the branch in his hand, and once his friend cut away another branch, skipped back an forth, bashing the wood against each other. Soon they grew bored, and tossed aside the tree’s branches, walking away together.
Later he came with a girl and a different metal object. They lingered at the base of the tree, whispering together and the tree felt love for him. Then he took out his own knife, and carved the couple’s initials into the trees bark.
He didn’t come for many years, and when he did it was with a large yellow machine. He held pieces of paper, with outlines for another cabin drawn on it. Soon men in orange hard hats arrived, brandished whirring knives, and ripped into the tree.
As the life dried from her wood, the tree tried her bet to remember the child that had scrambled through her branches, but the memory was fading, fading, then gone.