Author Wooster’s new children’s book responds to Shel Silverstein’s divisive ‘The Giving Tree’

WOOSTER, Ohio – Marcy Campbell wrote her new book The More You Give in response to Shel Silverstein’s popular, controversial children’s book The Giving Tree.

Published by Knopf, Campbell’s new picture book was released on Tuesday August 2nd, with colorful illustrations by Francesca Sanna.

The More You Give focuses on ideas around delayed gratification, kindness and family – a marked departure from the give-and-take themes that dominate the story in Silverstein’s 1964 classic. (In case you haven’t read it yet, The Giving Tree follows a relationship between a tree and a boy in which the tree gradually gives more and more parts of itself to the boy until it becomes a stump.)

Campbell didn’t read The Giving Tree until she was a new mom choosing books for her daughter and stumbled across a copy at a flea market.

“I had a very negative reaction to that because the kid isn’t giving,” Campbell said. “He does all the recording, and it just wasn’t the kind of message I wanted to convey to my kids. I thought maybe one day I could write an answer to that.”

In The More You Give, Campbell subverts themes from The Giving Tree. Here, instead of taking from one tree, several generations of a family plant more trees in the field around their home and pass on traditions. When some family members die, a legacy of love is left, made physical by the lush forest that surrounds them.

The idea came to Campbell’s mind at a writing conference when a speaker mentioned a saying: “Plant a tree whose shadow you’ll never see.”

“If you’ve ever planted trees with kids, a kid’s first question is, ‘When is this tree going to get really tall?’ You start thinking, ‘When will this tree be useful to me?’” Campbell said. “But if you plant an acorn, oaks take a particularly long time to grow. It takes several generations in the book before they end up in this forest.”

The More You Give enriches Campbell’s writing career and marks the publication of her fourth children’s book. Originally working in public relations, Campbell eventually earned a creative writing degree and began writing essays and short stories.

It wasn’t until she became a mother that she began to write for children. In 2018, Campbell published her first children’s book, Adrian Simcox Doesn’t Have a Horse. Two more books followed in 2021: the picture book Something Good and the middle school story The Rule of Threes.

“Growing up, there were no picture books in my home; It wasn’t until I became a parent that I was introduced to this wonderful world of children’s literature,” Campbell said. “I did my own crash course reading all the things I missed and all the new things that came out… I filled my home with picture books and started studying them and I wanted to do it myself try out.”

Campbell is celebrating the release of The More You Give with a book launch August 6 at the Wayne County Public Library.

For more information on her work, visit marcycampbell.com.

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