Welcome back to my final Spooky Saturday of 2013! If you missed the other posts, don’t worry: you can find them here.
Most people I talk to haven’t heard of this novel; even the big Bradbury fans out there (like my husband) aren’t aware that Bradbury wrote a creepy, fantastical tale for kids centered around the history and mystery of Halloween.
The Halloween Tree is a deceptively short book; it’s a fast read, but the story is layered and sticks with you in interesting ways. (Much like Bradbury’s other works).
Why do I love this book?
First, the characters. The book centers on a pack of boys, out for a scare on Halloween night. Tom is their quiet leader, and he’s pitted against Moundshroud, a creepy death-incarnate figure who lives in the haunted house outside of town. But Moundshroud isn’t entirely a bad guy; he’s complex, and he takes the boys through history to explain Halloween to them (and to teach them how to save their friend, Pipkin). I love and hate this character in equal parts, but he’s utterly compelling and, I think, my favorite figure in this book.
Then there’s the story. I’m a total history dork and I love Halloween; what could be better than a time travel romp through ancient Egypt, Celtic Europe, and a creepy Mexican crypt? Based on the boys’ costumes, Moundshroud takes them through history, exploring the significance behind the mummies, witches, and skeletons that come out to play each Halloween.
And finally, there’s the writing itself. Bradbury’s prose is poetry. I could get lost in his words and phrasing forever. I mean, seriously:
“And the town was full of…
And it was the afternoon of Halloween.
And all the houses shut against a cool wind.
And the town full of cold sunlight.
But suddenly, the day was gone.
Night came out from under each tree and spread.” (page 3)
“But all the people who met them at doors looked like candy factory duplicates of their own mothers and fathers. It was like never leaving home…what they wanted was to hear dragons belch in basements and banged castle doors.” (page 15)
This book is beautiful.
If you haven’t discovered Bradbury’s THE HALLOWEEN TREE, you still have time to read this scrumptious story before the spooky day. Let me know what you think!