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The Halloween Tree    by Ray Bradbury Amazon.com order for
Halloween Tree
by Ray Bradbury
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (1972)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

I read 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.

A 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.

The 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 Halloween tree, each of the pumpkins lights up. When they demand trick or treat at the door, the man on the other side tells them not treat, but trick. Terrifyingly, he appears from a pile of leaves. He is tall. He is skeletal. He is Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud.

After 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.

The 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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