Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree
by Ray Bradbury

This short stand-alone novella, originally published in 1972, is a masterpiece of thematic writing. On Halloween night, in an average midwestern town, in an indeterminate time period, eight rambunctious trick-or-treating boys gather at the haunted house at the edge of town, awaiting the arrival of their ninth friend, Pipkin, to begin their holiday shenanigans. When some unknown force spirits the ailing Pipkin away, the remaining friends soon find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime! The haunted house's owner, Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud takes the boys on a trip through time and space, exploring the historical and cultural origins of many Halloween traditions (embodied by their costumes of Skeleton, Gargoyle, Witch, Mummy, etc.). Bradbury's tale, while an adventure told in language that may be a bit flowery for today's kids, is still engaging -- and does a terrific job of explaining many of the holiday's established lore, from the terror felt by cultures who thought the sun died each night, to the persecution of enlightened individuals in the middle ages by their uneducated and superstitious masses, to the Mexican celebration of El Dia de los Muertos. The adventure soars from Egyptian pyramids, to druidic stone circles, to the highest parapets of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. I have friends who have made an annual tradition of reading this story out loud to each other, and I've now read it in back-to-back Octobers, finding new facets to this little gem with each reading. I highly recommend this title, with the caveat that it can feel just a bit dated, and there are no girls in the story. I should also point out that this was adapted into an animated TV special by Hanna-Barbera (the folks who bring us Scooby Doo) in 1993. This version has both its fans and its haters, and if you choose to track it down, just be aware that a lot has been changed between the book version and the video version! [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try most any other Ray Bradbury work, but particularly Something Wicked This Way Comes.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library [Subscribe to Scott's monthly booklist newsletter It's All Geek to Me! - on the Books, Movies & More newsletter sign-up page]
[ Wikipedia page for The Halloween Tree ] | [ official Ray Bradbury web site ]
Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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