The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody

Shrill Travesty, illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins, Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0763-3
This isn't the first parodic tweak of Shel Silverstein's classic, but it certainly sets a new standard of blithe snarkiness. "The tree was his best friend," writes the nom-de-plumed Travesty of the bratty protagonist. "Which shows what a loser the kid was." The tree, which frankly hates the child (who only gets meaner with age), feels hostage to his selfish and often criminal bidding ("[S]he couldn't get away from him. She was a tree"). Blisteringly sarcastic throughout (when the boy asks for the tree's apples to pay for college, she responds, "I'm an oak tree.... When have you ever seen me grow apples?"), the tree finally embraces the full meaning of "passive-aggressive. "[S]he took the kid's credit cards and ordered a bunch of DVDs she had no intention of watching. And she took the kid's cell phone and called the cops." Debut illustrator Cummins's deadpan cartooning never flags (one visual joke takes aim at the 2008 Republican presidential ticket); her addition of a scraggly and highly expressive mouth to the beleaguered tree's otherwise featureless trunk makes the fear and loathing even funnier. All ages. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/20/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Genre: Children's
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 48 pages - 978-1-4424-4066-1
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