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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Halloween Tree (original 1972; edition 2001)

by Ray Bradbury, Joseph Mugnaini (Illustrator)

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1,309355,950 (3.9)66
Title:The Halloween Tree
Authors:Ray Bradbury
Other authors:Joseph Mugnaini (Illustrator)
Info:Yearling (2001), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:read, children's

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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (1972)



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Originally published in 1970, this is Bradbury's semi-mature, semi-adolescent paen to Hallowe'en, a place which he had inhabited since his earliest short stories, but cast for an audience of younger boys and girls. Well, mainly boys. Girls are notably absent from this book, recounting the story of eight friends attempting to rescue their ninth companion, the greatest boy in the world, Joe Pipkin, from his inadvertent loss in time. To find Pipkin, Tom Skelton and his chums (don't worry, none of them are really differentiated except by their costumes, so their names are largely unimportant) accompany the mysterious Mr Moundshroud on a voyage through history and around the world, to see a sort of Disney version of the origins of Hallowe'en, rather in the "history minus the gore and horror" camp. I did love this book when I first read it, probably about thirty years ago, and it still holds up today and makes wonderfully timely reading for the month of October. Maybe next for an encore some Washington Irving (to whom Bradbury owes not a little) or some Lovecraft (ditto). This short novel is full of the delightful crisp airs and scents of the Autumn, as the world moves inexorably toward winter. Recommended. 4.5 / 5 stars. ( )
1 vote Bill_Bibliomane | Dec 10, 2013 |
A group of boys is ready to go out trick-or-treating, but one of their friends, Pipkin, is nowhere to be found. Pip suggests his friends meet him at a haunted house, and from there, the boys are taken on a voyage through place and time to learn about the history of Halloween at those various times and places, including Egypt when the pyramids were first built, Europe during the witch burnings, Mexico where they learn about Day of the Dead, and more.

It was ok. I listened to the audio, narrated by Bronson Pinchot. I thought he did a good job as narrator, but for the first half of it, my mind wandered too much and I did miss quite a bit. I managed to pay better attention through the second half and enjoyed that more. It's a quick little story and a good choice for Halloween. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 27, 2013 |
I finally got around to reading this for my All Hallows Read this year (yes, I'm getting in a little early). The use of language is frequently magnificent, if at times overly-lush (more so than I'm used to from his short stories, certainly), the imagery is stunning and will stay with me for some time, and there's some appropriate nastiness to the tale. Overall, it's a fun romp, and though the characterisation is paper-thin and the telling is a little dated, I think children in particular will still love it. ( )
  salimbol | Oct 25, 2013 |
The Halloween Tree
By Ray Bradbury
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Published In: New York City, NY, USA
Date: 1972
Pgs: 145


A trick or treat expedition sets out from the neighborhood on Halloween. When they discover one of their companions missing, they end up on a mission through time trying to find their friend. Along the way, they discover the origin of Halloween. The dead, the darkness, the ghostly, ghastly, ghoulies await in the dark of All Hallow’s Eve. Come one, come all to the Halloween Tree.

fiction, young adult, Halloween

Why this book:
I’ve heard about this for years and never taken the time to read it. It has resided on my “to read” list for a long, long time. Recently, I saw a list of Neil Gaiman’s in which he named this one of his quintessential Halloween reads. I was looking for a Halloween read for this year and was going back and forth between rereads of The Graveyard Book by Gaiman or The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. But when I saw this on Gaiman’s list, it jumped to the top of mine.

This Story is About:
courage, working hard, doing the right thing, greed, friends, jealousy, love, caring, happiness, sadness, family

Favorite Character:
Mr. Moundshroud. He’s magic. He is the night.

Least Favorite Character:
Pipkin, he’s the boy that everybody loves. I’ve always hated those guys. Not that I want bad things to happen to them. And I would have helped the rest of our friends to search him out.

Character I Most Identified With:
Tom. We’re all supposed to be Tom; afraid for our friend, swept along by dark and mysterious powers as we learn the origins of Halloween, filled with the wonder of childhood.

The Feel:
The run through the night streets on a Trick or Treat mission. Candy or bust. With an autumnal wind at your back. The wonder in the dark. The magic of the night.

Favorite Scene:
The lighting of the Halloween Tree when Moundshroud arises.
The circus kite building and the flight through the night skies and through time.
The appearance of Samhain and the scything of the autumnal wheat and the dead. The Fall of the Druids, the Rise of Rome, the Fall of Rome, the burning of the witches...the way these were pastiched together was very well envisioned.

The neighborhood on Halloween night, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, old England, Europe, Paris

The pace of the story is easily enclosed in the exposition and poetry without dragging. Well done. Master craft.

Plot Holes/Out of Character:

Last Page Sound:

Author Assessment:
It’s Ray Bradbury.

Editorial Assessment:
Well done.

Did the Book Cover Reflect the Story:
The cover shows the boys at the beginning of their quest all dressed up in their Halloween best. Love the negative image/illusion of Mr. Moundshroud made into the image of the boys in costume.

Yes. Illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini. My favorite is the image of Mr. Moundshroud from the epilogue where he seems to stand before the whirlpool of infinity with his cape being part cape and part a locust’s veiny wings.

Hmm Moments:
The exposition about ancient Grecian autumnal practices, re: Halloween, mirroring the passing over of the spirit of death during the 10 plagues of Egypt from the Moses story in the Bible. Specifically, the painting of the lintel with pitch to keep out/catch the ghosts and keep them from entering.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
real classic

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library, Irving, TX

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
There was a Cartoon Network production with Leonard Nimoy voicing Mr. Moundshroud and with Ray Bradbury as The Narrator. Find it surprising that there haven’t been more adaptations.

Casting call:
Would love to see Brad Pitt or George Clooney as Mr. Moundshroud in a live action movie.
Angus Scrimm should have been Mr. Moundshroud.

Would recommend to:
All who love Halloween, Ray Bradbury, and the things that go bump in the night ( )
  texascheeseman | Oct 22, 2013 |
This should be read every October, and the style really works well with being read aloud. Though I believe I'm basing that on my remembrance of the animated film of The Halloween Tree, I think it's probably true.

A few quotes:

P. 4 "...Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallow's Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells; gourds being cut, pies being baked."

p. 18 "...Until they stood at last by a crumbling wall, looking up and up and still farther up at the great tombyard top of the old house. For that's what it seemed. The high mountain peak of the mansion was littered with what looked like black bones or iron rods, and enough chimneys to choke out smoke signals from three dozen fires on sooty hearths hidden far below in dim bowels of this monster place. With so many chimneys, the roof seemed a vast cemetery, each chimney signifying the burial place of some old god of fire or enchantress of steam, smoke, and firefly spark. Even as they watched, a kind of bleak exhalation of soot breathed up out of some four dozen flues, darkening the sky still more, and putting out some few stars."

You could quibble with Bradbury being too fond of simile and metaphor, and that would be fair. Still I feel it gives a great adventure story take on why we still celebrate the holiday, with enough atmosphere to make it seasonal. And I'm probably biased since I have always enjoyed Day of the Dead. ( )
  bookishbat | Sep 25, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ray Bradburyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mugnaini, Joseph A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinchot, BronsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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With love for MADAME MAN'HA GARREAU-DOMBASLE met twenty-seven years ago in the graveyard at midnight on the Island of Janitzio at Lake Patzcuaro, Mexico, and remembered on each anniversary of the Day of the Dead.
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It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375803017, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:58 -0400)

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A group of children and a "spirit" go back through time to discover the beginnings of Halloween.

(summary from another edition)

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