From USA TODAY
The best trees in literature
Trees — what are they good for? In real life: oxygen, food, shade, houses, paper. In literature: so, so much more. From Middle-earth’s talking “Ents” to the car-destroying Whomping Willow, we’re taking a look at some of the most famous trees in fiction. With Earth Day behind us and summer around the corner, these sturdy creatures — by turns generous, beautiful, ugly and seductive — give us new reason to love (and fear) plants. 1.The Giving Tree Charitable to a fault Probably the most famous tree in all of children’s literature, Shel Silverstein’s arboreal creation takes loving (though, ultimately, self-destructive) joy in providing for her human friend, Boy. As a child, Boy wants only to play innocently with the tree, climbing her trunk and swinging from her branches. But as he grows older and his needs become more urgent, his requests demand greater sacrifices: the tree’s apples for money, her branches for a house, even her trunk for a boat. The conclusion of The Giving Tree is a bitterly sad one — but, as in all of Silverstein’s works, it’s a soul-enriching, life-lesson-imparting sort of sad.
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