Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Classic Halloween

The Halloween Tree
by Ray Bradbury
Random House, 1972

As we approach the last week of October, I'm sure those Halloween preparations are in full swing. Putting finishing touches on scary and silly costumes, buying candy, choosing pumpkins and putting spooky decor around the home are just part of the tradition as we get ready for All Hallows Eve. I would like to personally suggest another activity that should be added to the holiday to-do list: find yourself a copy of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.

Ever since I discovered this book in junior hight I have read it each year around Halloween and each time I am never able to put it down. The magic and adventure in this book never cease to electrify my imagination. The book is about eight friends who set out on Halloween night to find some adventure. The ninth friend in the group, Pipkin, promises to meet up with the rest of the boys later on at a sinister looking house in the woods. But when the boys think they see him, the chase begins. From here on out the eight boys are led into the darkest depths of history as a mysterious character, named Moundshroud, guides them through the past to find their friend. The whole while, Moundshroud uses supernatural and mystical tactics to teach the children the meanings behind the celebration of Halloween. After spectacular lessons about history, other cultures, and celebrations are learned in ancient Egypt, the time of the Druids, and Mexico, to name a few, the boys endure the greatest personal journey of the evening as they are asked how far they would truly go to help their friend.

Fans of Bradbury know that his stories, particularly those about children, are typically accompanied by change, growing up, and the ache of loss. The Halloween Tree is no exception to this. Despite this being a children's chapter book, Bradbury still eloquently describes the realities of death's cold touch, and he does so as honestly and simply as a child might describe the misty and haunting twilight that comes after an autumn sunset. The book's lyrical nature and the youthful vibe from the characters make this book not only a moving story to listen to, but also a sheer delight to read for children and adults of all ages. Happy reading and Happy Halloween.

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