My rating: ★★★☆☆
Let me start with an anecdote.
When I was a junior in high school, I took a Creative Writing class with a friend of mine. Toward the end of the year, the teacher assigned us a project; we were each to choose a favorite author and one of his or her books to do a short presentation on. (What that has to do with Creative Writing, I don’t know. It seems like our time would have been better suited to, you know, writing.) A sophomore acquaintance in the class chose to do her presentation on The Giving Tree, and as part of her presentation, she was going to show an animated adaptation of The Giving Tree that she’d found on YouTube.
She didn’t download the video, unfortunately, so she had to go searching for it; the first link she clicked turned out to be a different one than she’d picked. Then she thought she’d found it on the second try. She really hadn’t.
Instead, she’d ended up here. And so our class accidentally blasted “GIVE ME ALL YOUR FUCKING APPLES!” down the hall, given that the speakers were so loud and the door was open.
The whole class, teacher included, laughed hysterically for probably five minutes.
So when I sit down to read a Giving Tree parody, that’s always on my mind. The parody I’m reading has to compete with the absolute shock and hilarity of that Creative Writing incident.
The Taking Tree didn’t have that shock factor, obviously, but it was still amusing. Our premise here is vastly different from The Giving Tree; essentially, the two characters’ personalities are entirely opposite the originals. The little boy is an antagonist brat, and the tree isn’t putting up with his shit.
Me being me, I certainly enjoyed it. I’m not the kind of person who’ll ROFL over a book, but The Taking Tree gave me a chuckle here and there thanks to its frankness and sheer absurdity.
I’d advise fans of adult-targeted picture books to give this one a try, as well as those who individuals who don’t like the original Giving Tree (or those who did like, but don’t mind someone poking fun at the premise). I would point out, however, that I wouldn’t recommend this to parents looking for something to read to their children. Like most parody picture books, it belongs in the humor section–not the kidlit section.