aPriL does feral sometimes 's Reviews > The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
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‘The Halloween Tree’ is a scary tale either meant for or to be read to little boys of eleven or twelve. It is more poetry than prose, an Impressionist painting of history in words, about the imagery that different cultures from Egypt to Rome to the Middle Ages to Mexico have developed to represent Death through the ages.

A young friend, Pipkin, has appendicitis and has been hospitalized. Usually he has led the friends trick ‘n treating on Halloween, but not this year. The usual gang of friends, eight boys, are worried, but they walk the streets to knock on doors for candy as if everything is normal. However, this year, what worries them is an unspoken question: what is Death? Will Pipkin be alright?

The boys dare each other to knock on the door of the scariest house. Ooooooh! Mr. Moundshroud comes to the door. Oh oh. He only does Tricks!

Hint: where did mummies, skeletons, witches, gargoyles, ghosts, and last but not least, cloaked Death with his scythe, come from? The boys weren’t asking, but Mr. Moundshroud is going to show them anyway...

Happy Halloween!


From page 20:

“The stars they turn, the candles burn
And the mouse-leaves scurry on the cold wind bourne,
And a mob of smiles shine down on thee
From the gourds hung high on the Halloween 🎃 Tree.

The smile of the Witch, and the smile of the 🐈,
The smile of the Beast, the smile of the 🦇,
The smile of the Reaper taking his fee
All cut and glimmer on the Halloween tree...”

The title of the book and the vague nightmarish story is obviously a literary twist on the scientific “Tree of Evolution”, only instead the book is about a history of the imagination of human culture in pondering Death, the source material of the Halloween holiday.

The story is kind of a The Night before Christmas: or A Visit from St. Nicholas except for the Halloween theme and Great Literature values. The book is heavy going for many modern readers because of its mix of literary prose and actual poetry, given the literary culture of today’s children and parents. The child reader would have to be a nerd, and/or the reading parent quite educated in history and literature and religion, to understand this book.

If you are a literary educated parent with a nerdy son, I recommend this novella. However, from what I saw in Goodreads reviews, most adults cannot understand ‘The Halloween Tree’. Do I sound like a sniffy pointy-headed elitist? Can’t help it. It is what it is. The only cure for any blank incomprehension you may experience if you read this ‘children’s’ book is to read a lot more classics and history books.

My copy of the book had terrific illustrations by Gris Grimly.
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Reading Progress

October 5, 2017 – Started Reading
October 5, 2017 – Shelved
October 5, 2017 –
page 58
40.28% "A boy and Halloween 🎃"
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: brilliant-but-i-don-t-love-it
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: children
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: literary
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: magical-drama
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: mythology
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: paranormal
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: teen-nerd
October 6, 2017 – Finished Reading

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