The Halloween Tree
Knopf, 2007 (1972)
Reviewed by Alex Telander
The Halloween Tree
every October because it's the perfect book for Halloween, just as
A Christmas Carol
is for Christmas. It's an enchanting journey into the history of the holiday, in which the reader learns much and is changed in the process.
group of eight boys are on their way to trick or treat on Halloween, all in different costumes – skeleton, mummy, gargoyle, etc. – and head over to the house of another friend, Pipkin. The latter is sick. He doesn't look well at all, but is the group leader and has never missed a Halloween. Pipkin tells the others to go ahead to a specific house and that he will catch up with them.
he house turns out to be the quintessential Halloween mansion, with many rooms and black windows. Beside it is an ancient oak, hanging from whose branches are many carved pumpkins swinging in the breeze. As the boys watch this
, each of the pumpkins lights up. When they demand
trick or treat
at the door, the man on the other side tells them not
. Terrifyingly, he appears from a pile of leaves. He is tall. He is skeletal. He is Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud.
fter the boys get over their initial fear, they are invited on a journey by Mr. Moundshroud. They see Pipkin being taken into the past, weakened by his sickness, and it is up to Moundshroud and the boys to rescue Pipkin from time. So the boys begin their journey, forming the tail of a giant kite controlled by Moundshroud. They pass back through time to visit the Halloweens of history: Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, medieval Britain, Notre Dame, and El Dia de Los Muertos.
he Halloween Tree
is an incredible story, in which readers learn the history of Halloween through the eyes of different cultures and told in Ray Bradbury's unique style. After reading, I feel as if I've actually experienced many different Halloweens and am all the more ready for another on October 31st.
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