The Halloween Tree

By Ray Bradbury
ISBN 0-375-80301-7

Publication Year: 1972

Tags: Fantasy, Horror, Youth

Rating: ★★★★★

All the boys lament: How can there be Halloween without Pipkin? The light-footed lad may miss his tricks and treats this year, for he has been whisked away on a journey into the world of Halloween itself, and it could mean his life or death. His eight friends must follow him, guided by the mysterious Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and the symbols upon the Halloween Tree, to fly through all of space and time to learn the terrifying history of Halloween, from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, through the Druids, medieval Notre Dame, and the Day of the Dead, with Pipkin always just ahead, waiting, calling, seeking the very roots of Halloween itself …

Ray Bradbury was hailed as “the greatest fantasist of the 20th century” (Time Magazine). He was also my mentor, so naturally, I’d agree with that assessment. In The Halloween Tree, he deftly weaves together an amazing tapestry of emotion and adventure through the hearts and minds of these eight, small-Midwestern town boys who live to celebrate the spookiest, most candy-and tricks-filled night of the year. In doing so, he shows to the boys the history, the why behind their costumes and jack-o-lanterns, their symbols and rituals, the very heart of this night of darkness.

Written for the young, this book will still entertain and educate children of any age who want to understand my mummies and ghosts and goblins walk the streets in search of Halloween candy on the eve of All Saints Day. The story entertains with leaps of glorious fantasy as the boys travel from place to place, all through time, sometimes in a vessel, sometimes hanging on to one another’s feet as they become the tail of a great and impossible kite, all being led by the knowledgeable and unknowable Mr. Moundshroud, the strange man who appeared at the darkened, haunted house just beyond the outskirts of the town, the man on whose land grows the Halloween Tree.

Rich in atmosphere, steeped in the art and careful language of a master storyteller, The Halloween Tree will bring out the child in you, the one who still can feel the bony protrusion of a skeleton’s finger tracing up your back, the one who wonders if that’s just the wind or perhaps instead the call of a lonely spirit, the one who wonders if perhaps there’s good reason to keep the creatures at bay by leaving an offering rather than risk letting them into the house. Read this book in your favorite chair, with perhaps just a few extra lights burning, and candles near in case the power goes out. Bring snacks — though short in pages, this book’s journey spans the world and crosses centuries. Ignore that howl outside; I’m sure it’s just someone’s dog. That clicking at the window? Just a flicker of a bird’s wing, or perhaps a bat. Keep reading. Keep going. Keep looking into the beautiful dark heart of Halloween…


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