Title: The Halloween Tree
Author: Ray Bradbury
Page Count: 160 pages
Rating: 4 / ✨✨✨✨
A fast-moving, eerie…tale set on Halloween night. Eight costumed boys running to meet their friend Pipkin at the haunted house outside town encounter instead the huge and cadaverous Mr. Moundshroud. As Pipkin scrambles to join them, he is swept away by a dark Something, and Moundshroud leads the boys on the tail of a kite through time and space to search the past for their friend and the meaning of Halloween.
After witnessing a funeral procession in ancient Egypt, cavemen discovering fire, Druid rites, the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages, and the gargoyles of Notre Dame, they catch up with the elusive Pipkin in the catacombs of Mexico, where each boy gives one year from the end of his life to save Pipkin’s. Enhanced by appropriately haunting black-and-white drawings.
“When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.”
I read this as part of a group read with a bunch of book community friends on Halloween, and while it wasn’t my first Bradbury book, it was the first I’ve read aimed at a younger audience.
THE HALLOWEEN TREE is about a group of boys that are out celebrating Halloween when one of their friends is whisked off, desperately needing to be rescued. The boys meet a mysterious, magical man that takes them across time and space to tell the origin stories of Halloween from different cultures and legends.
I enjoyed this a lot, although it felt a bit rushed at times. I would have liked to spend more time in each little locale, because it was so interesting learning about the different customs and traditions. I loved that each boy’s costume tied into the stories, and I loved the descriptions and prose used throughout the book – magical and whimsical and pretty, it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland a few times. The edition I read had really neat illustrations as well, which was a really nice touch.
I think I’ll be rereading this each year – it’s short and quick enough to get through in less than an hour, and I feel it’s one of those stories that I’ll get a little bit more out of with each reread.