Wonderful piece, Anthony; thoughtfully described and considered. “The Giving Tree” established Shel Silverstein among a class of children’s book authors, right up there with E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web.” Both authors created sentimental (or seemingly sentimental) stories, describing life in what seems the simplest terms. Only these books have been described at length (as you have), showing just how poignant words can be, especially reflecting what our lives are truly about: caring. Whether the tree in Silverstein’s book is overly generous towards the boy, or simply finds joy in giving, it’s always hard to know. Perhaps our crying demonstrates that we don’t know. I’ve gone to many used bookstores, asking if they have a copy of “The Giving Tree.” Every one has said: “We never see that book. If it came in, it would be gone in minutes.” Imagine how many people, how many families, how many children have been influenced by “Uncle Shelly.” At one time, he lived a few houses down from Janis Joplin in Los Angeles. In Joplin’s biography “On the Road With Janis Joplin,” she refers to Silverstein as a “neighbor who occassionally came over and made drinks.” Not “the great Shel Silverstein.”

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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