The Selfish Giant
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The Selfish Giant

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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  3,123 ratings  ·  135 reviews
This magnificent new edition of Oscar Wilde's beloved tale tells the story of the selfish giant who built a wall around his beautiful garden to keep children out. It was always winter in the garden, for no other season would venture there. Then one morning, a special child brought Spring back, and the giant's heart melted along with the snow.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 21st 1995 by Putnam Juvenile (first published 1888)
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Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Be...Cinderella by Charles PerraultThe Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian AndersenThe Snow Queen by Hans Christian AndersenRumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky
Best Classic Fairytale
22nd out of 67 books — 67 voters
Arrow of the Mist by Christina MercerThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisThe Last Dragon Slayer by Martyn StanleyHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Magical and Mystical Creatures (Titles ONLY)
38th out of 493 books — 127 voters


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Jeremiah Jones
Oct 15, 2007 Jeremiah Jones rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: every child of God
It's good that this title appears at the top of my list--"The Selfish Giant" has long been one of my favorite stories. I remember listening to my mother read it as we sat on our front porch on a lazy California afternoon. Just as she did, I also cry when I read this touching story to my children.

There are few books outside the canon of scripture that I would count as spiritually powerful and fully illustrative of the love of God as this short story. Take the time today to read it to your childre...more
Conor
The Selfish Giant was one of my favourite books as a child, and upon reading it again there were a lot of themes and symbols that as a child i was oblivious to. The story is about a Selfish Giant who owns a home with a beautiful garden. Upon returning to his home he discovers the local children playing in his garden, the sun shining and birds chirping. The Giant was enraged that the children had been playing in his garden, so he chased them all away and built a huge wall with a sign saying 'tres...more
Beccy
Utterly beautiful.

On the surface a traditional fairy tale, though Wilde wrote it as a religious parable, however as a five ar six year old it wasn't a subtext I was aware of.

The plot centres around a giant who puts a wall around his beautiful garden to stop children playing in it, and in doing so, stops Spring from entering as well as them. One day the children find a cranny though which to kreep back into the garden and duly Spring returns and the garden becomes a paradise once more. As the gi...more
Lisa Vegan
I own many books by Oscar Wilde, including a book of stories that contains a version of this story, but I haven’t read that book since my childhood years.

So, because of the Jesus allusions, it ended up being not my cup of tea at all. I assume that as I child I didn’t get the Christian/Jesus connection and I probably was able to enjoy it more because of that.

But, up until the end I appreciated and enjoyed the story and the illustrations that are in this edition.

It’s a lovely fairy tale and if the...more
Katharine
My first time reading this beautiful story. I thought it was moving, but the stigmata message was inappropriate for my family and young children. I'm glad I read it first. I read the version illustrated by lisbeth zwerger.
Brad
Being reminded of this short story is a recollection of my childhood, or at least of the day when I was a 14 year old plowing through an Oscar Wilde complete anthology book. I remember thinking that it was so much better than the pithy and pathetic morals found in the Smurfs and for some really odd reason, I wanted a really great moral story with lots of protein when I at this one. I smacked my lips and felt full afterwards.
Of course, like many compulsive word-overeaters, I ignored my appetite a...more
Mark Delaney
The Selfish Giant is a beautifully illustrated book which deals with themes of love and redemption. The story begins with the selfish giant returning from holidays to discover children playing in his garden. This makes him furious and he immediately banishes them. As winter passes and spring is near, the garden still remains dormant, there is frost and snow on the trees and grass, there is a loud strong North wind and hail bashes heavily off the roof. Summer and Autumn pass, but the garden still...more
Jennifer
I read the Selfish Giant to a year one class on my first placement as part of a PSHE lesson. The book itself is beautifully illustrated and the themes of the book; selfishness and greed changing into selflessness, friendship, care and death, are approached in a gentle way, making it suitable for younger children.

The giant lives alone in a castle and when he leaves to visit friends, children from the village come to play in his garden which is large and full of beautiful trees. When the giant re...more
Michelle
Oct 17, 2010 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Amy Koch, Amy Spear
Recommended to Michelle by: William Kilpatrick in http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/810907.Books_That_Build_Character
Shelves: read-with-ds
A wonderful short story with a pleasant surprise at the end. Beautifully illustrated. The story generated an excellent conversation between myself and my son about the symbolism in the story and what Oscar Wilde was really writing about.
Katie Lee
I would not recommend this book for kids. The original story line is great but in the end the author throws in a religious twist. This factor threw me for a loop so I can imagine what would happen if a young student was reading it.
Rachel Fellows
I read this to Georgia for the first time today--her first Oscar Wilde! I thought the stigmata message at the end was a little too weirdly religious for my taste, but it's Oscar Wilde, so I was able to overlook it.
Tanya W
Great book, great message, interesting tie-in to Christ which I wasn't expecting and wouldn't have figured out without the obvious symbolism.
Jenny Wagstaff
I read this to my daughter at bedtime, we both really liked it. She immediately identified the little boy at the end as Jesus, bless her!
Cindy
It is the very end which makes the story worth reading. I am a sucker for this kind of story-- which I do not think is a bad thing.
Grady
A Triptych of Artists Honor Oscar Wilde,

Oscar Wilde wrote a large number of stories for children, a fact we often forget when the controversial author and playwright's is considered. But Wilde wrote charming and imaginative stories for his children and among those his most respected is THE SELFISH GIANT. It is a story that helps children deal with fear, with the unknown, and with understanding 'strangers' - as well as being a wonderful fairy tale. Composer Dan Goeller has enhanced this story by...more
Melanie
An interesting tale of giant who does not want the neighborhood children to play in his garden while he is away. So he builds a wall about the garden and the children are very sad. Winter and snow comes and it stays and stays and stays...the giant does not understand and is angry that the spring won't come. One day the children find a way to sneak in and suddenly the garden transforms into spring. The giant takes an interest in a little boy who is trying to climb into a tree but is too short to...more
Stefania Gartz
Κάθε απόγευμα, γυρίζοντας από το σχολείο, τα παιδιά πήγαιναν να παίξουν στον κήπο του γίγαντα. Ήταν ένας μεγάλος, πανέμορφος κήπος με απαλό πράσινο γρασίδι. Εδώ κι εκεί στο χορτάρι ορθώνονταν ωραία λουλούδια σαν αστέρια, υπήρχαν δώδεκα ροδακινιές που την γέμιζαν ρόδινα μαργαριταρένια ανθάκια, το φθινόπωρο βάραιναν από τους πλούσιους καρπούς. Τα πουλιά κάθονταν στα δέντρα τραγουδούσαν τόσο γλυκά, που τα παιδιά σταματούσαν τα παιχνίδια τους για να τ' ακούσουν. «Τι ευτυχισμένα που είμαστε εδώ!» φών...more
William O



The Selfish Giant is a beautifully illustrated book which deals with themes of love and redemption. It tells the tale of a selfish giant who when returning in winter from holidays sees children playing in his garden. He banishes them from his garden but the season in the garden does not change as time passes.One day he hears a melody in the garden and when he investigates he sees the garden in full bloom with children playing; all except one corner of the garden. There is a boy struggling to cli...more
Niradhip
This is a wonderful story with the legendary punch “trespassers will be prosecuted”. The selfish giant has an everlasting effect on all the reader’s mind. How magnificently the cruel selfish giant turned himself into generous, open minded and lovable. The turnaround from dark to munificent heart is spectacular and well written. The best gift from the god is children and god wants the giant to understand the real meaning of happiness is generosity and make others happy. Selfish giant gradually un...more
Craig
I don't think I understood the moral of this book. It's an Oscar Wilde story that I read translated into Spanish. It is presented as a picture book and the artwork is very nice.

In this story a selfish giant owns a beautiful garden, but he won't let the children from the neighborhood play in his garden. So when the rest of the town turns to spring and summer his garden stays in winter and the personified frost and snow and hail enjoy their time year round in his garden. Then one day he wakes up a...more
El
(Read as part of the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde.)

I've probably read this one before, but since it didn't really seem all that familiar I read it again. It was okay. I was on board through most of the story until the end which seemed a bit... preachy for my taste, but I get the point of the story and that's what matters.

Although, I prefer the way the giant was in the beginning. I don't want kids playing on my lawn either.
Katie Curry
I can't lie...in the beginning, this story definitely was not my favorite. It wasn't until the end and you begin to see the transformation in the grumpy giants life and the Jesus connection made as the giants favorite child escorts him into paradise. I really don't think I would use this book in my classroom because of the symbolism in the end, but if I did I would use it to talk about the seasons and also selfishness does not get you anywhere or anything in life.
Cheryl
Beautifully illustrated and typical of Oscar Wilde.

I recommend parents read this before giving to their children. Sensitive children and non-Christian parents may find the last pages of concern.

Found our copy in the used book store. Since the only price on it is in pounds (and published by Floris Books), I wonder if someone purchased it overseas and brought it here. Either way, I'm glad to have had an opportunity to read it.
Steve
Mar 27, 2012 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Steve by: Read excerpt in Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening
Shelves: owned
I was so affected by an excerpt from this book in Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening that I knew I had to read this children's book. Oscar Wilde's story of a selfish giant is one of redemption in a garden. I don't know if he did this intentionally but it creates a fitting contrast to the Bible's story of the first act of selfishness in a garden and the need for redemption. I plan to read this every year at Easter to my grandchildren.
Dylan
My least favorite of these stories so far. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really make me think as much as the others. I understand the not wanting to become selfish, and seeing people for how they are inside more than outside. It just didn't move me as much. Still worth reading though. Oscar Wilde is brilliant.
Suhasini Srihari
I can relate the story to the people living in the modern era (which includes me) where we don't want to share or care for others, but finally we end up being lonely all through our lives. Wilde has understood the human psyche and no doubt he could produce such works!
Maryam
Jun 04, 2011 Maryam added it
The turning point when the Giant is no longer selfish sets up a good read. Even though it got boring towards the end, Wilde caught his readers' attention back by introducing a rather interesting story of the little innocent boy who couldn't reach the tree.
Betsy
My favorite of Wilde's tales by one of my favorite illustrators. I find it intriguing that, unlike Gallagher's illustrations of the same tale, Zwerger never shows us the garden itself--and the garden is a major player. Still, I liked it.
Lou
That was pretty sweet! Is very short but is a funny story to enjoy, also the end was sad/happy but I loved all the story. Moreover, it is for all ages, not just children.
Laura
Dec 12, 2010 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Gundula, Lee, Lisa Vegan
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
A group of children adore playing in a beautiful garden, until the owner - a monstrous giant - returns. Read by John Moffatt.
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E...more
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The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays   An Ideal Husband The Canterville Ghost

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“And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, 'You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.” 7 likes
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