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The Halloween Tree Paperback – September 7, 1999
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Special indeed are holiday stories with the right mix of high spirits and subtle mystery to please both adults and children--Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," for example. Or Ray Bradbury's classic The Halloween Tree. Eight boys set out on a Halloween night and are led into the depths of the past by a tall, mysterious character named Moundshroud. They ride on a black wind to autumn scenes in distant lands and times, where they witness other ways of celebrating this holiday about the dark time of year. Bradbury's lyrical prose whooshes along with the pell-mell rhythms of children running at night, screaming and laughing, and the reader is carried along by its sheer exuberance.
Bradbury's stories about children are always attended by dread--of change, adulthood, death. The Halloween Tree, while sweeter than his adult literature, is also touched at moments by the cold specter of loss--which is only fitting, of course, for a holiday in honor of the waning of the sun.
This is a superb book for adults to read to children, a way to teach them, quite painlessly, about customs and imagery related to Halloween from ancient Egypt, Mediterranean cultures, Celtic Druidism, Mexico, and even a cathedral in Paris. (One caveat, though: Bradbury unfortunately perpetuates a couple of misconceptions about Samhain, or summer's end, the Halloween of ancient Celts and contemporary pagans.) This beautiful reprint edition has the original black-and-white illustrations and a new color painting on the dust jacket. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
''If you want to know what Halloween is, or if you simply want an eerie adventure, take this mystery-history trip. You couldn't have a better guide than Ray Bradbury.'' -- Boston Globe
''Imaginatively cryptic . . . skillfully presented.'' --Los Angeles Times
''A haunting, unforgettable night of trick-or-treating . . . Satisfyingly spooky.'' --Midwest Book Review
''There is a great treat in Bradbury's frenetic imagery.'' --New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Ray Bradbury spins the tale of a group of friends looking for the ultimate halloween scare. Trick or treating simply is not good enough and so they sneak out a haunted house. When they arrive however it os not unoccupied and they are taken on a journey through history by Mr. Mounshoud to learn about different cultures representations of halloween. They race through Egypt, Rome, France, Mexico and other wonderful places trying to save their frind Pipkin while learning how the different countries celebrate and honor their loved ones who have passed on.
I am always fond of Ray Bradbury books, but I have to go with four stars because sometimes his writing style looses me. I will be reading along and suddenly feel like the subject matter changed without a clear path as to how we got here or where we are now. I recommend this book for anyone looking for some light educational reading on a very interesting subject.
The stories purpose is to tell the reader some aspects of the long and convoluted history that forms our modern understanding of Halloween traditions. And it does a good job of that, having a group of 8 boys dressed up in classic Halloween monster costumes being wisked to different time periods to examine how the people of those time viewed Halloween and how they connect to the costumes.
Their guide on this Journey is a Mr. Moundshroud who is rather entertaining in his speech and manner, and much more pleasant then his movie counterpart, with the book not really telling his true nature until the end.
The driving force of the book, the reason the boys are doing this, is to find their friend Pipkin who has been taken by death. And this is one of the book's weaknesses. Though the boys are traveling through time, Moundshroud makes it understood early on that they can't save Pipkin until they reach their final destination, so from that narrative point the adventure is incidental with only the end goal having any importance.
The other weak point of this story is the boys themselves. It takes the entire book to learn all of their names and they have virtually no personality. The majority of the time they lack individual dialogue and are written as just chanting a word someone else says or "Yes, Yes."
So to sum up, a pretty good book to explain to young readers where Halloween comes from. But not for readers who are looking for real character driven stories where the journey is as important as the end goal. If that is what you are after I would actually recommend the movie.
While Bradbury is known for his work in "science fiction" The Halloween Tree shows he is just a storyteller regardless of the genre you put him in. Bradbury fans will feel themselves transported back to Green Town, Illinois, though it is not ever called out.The wind, the ravine, the small town atmosphere. And on this night, a much deeper magical power comes out.
It is a vivid and amazing story worthy of reading to get you in the mood for October.
Ray Bradbury best known for sci-fi - this thriller must have been fun for him.
Nostalgic since the characters are all young boys set in 60s
I started tradition of reading to my kids when they were ~10, and then sent them copies from AMZN every halloween when they were in College
they love it, great book...
So, quick history: there's an animated movie of this, which I watched as a child and could only vaguely recall some details. Halloween themed and a group of kids is trying to save the soul of a dead friend? Surely my mother didn't make me watch this? It was only a few years ago that I figured out what that movie was, and posted about it on Facebook, and, like, three of my friends replied along the lines of "IT DOES EXIST? I THOUGHT IT WAS A DREAM!"
The book is a bit less traumatic. Though our memories of the messed-up premise are rather accurate.
A group of young boys accompany a strange but fun man on a tour of the inspirations for their Halloween costumes and of the holiday itself. Along the way, they follow the disembodied spirit of the greatest of their gang, and must find a way to save him.
I totally plan to read this to my kids in the week before Halloween, once I have said kids. It's a little scary, but not so much that I think they'd be kept up at night. More fantasy than horror, certainly.
The price is great, the story is fast, get it, go ahead!