Oh my god, is this overdue: beloved, but problematic kids stories rewritten to eliminate the creep-factor. For years I have been complaining about these books and what they teach both children and parents, with the most insidious of the horror stories being “Love You Forever”. Yes, that creepy-assed mom at the window is actually scarier to me than psychopath kid who slowly consumes an entire tree in what is surely an unintentional metaphor for toxic masculinity, the self-erosion of capitalism, and perhaps even cannibalism. I mean, look at her in this pic. It’s like Salem’s Lot. Bravo, weirdo writer who had the gumption to do this.
Payne got the idea to start re-writing the endings to children’s books when he was tasked with reading a book aloud for a storytime to raise money for the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund. He was trying to find a book to read when he came across The Giving Tree on his bookshelf. The Giving Tree tells the story of a boy who takes a lot from a tree who gets nothing in return. Depending on who you talk to, it’s the story of selfless love or an abusive relationship.
“I came across The Giving Tree on my shelf and thought, ‘Ugh. I hate the Boy. The Boy is the worst.’ And then I joked with my husband about how there should be an alternate ending where the tree sets boundaries and they enjoy the benefits of an interdependent relationship. And then I remembered I’m a writer and I could just do that,” Payne tells Scary Mommy.