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The Halloween Tree
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Previous Group Reads > The Halloween Tree

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Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
This thread is for our October 15-November 14 Samhain themed group read!
The book is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Please let me know if you think it's necessary to have spoiler and non-spoiler threads!


Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments This is a pretty short book. I would think one thread should be enough.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
I'm fine with just one thread.

I'm on vacation from the 8th til the 16th, but when I get back I'll check it out from the library.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Same. It's a really short book, easily read in one sitting, so no spoiler thread needed


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I've been putting off re-readin this, but the US Kindle version has dropped to $2.

However, it does NOT have the original illustrations by Mugnaini. Instead, it has new ones by Gris Grimly.

Maybe it's a nostalgia thing, but I really refer the Mugnaini ones.

Either way, it's a cheap edition for anyone with a Kindle who hasn't gotten a copy.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
Hmm, maybe I should just buy it for my kindle then. I'm still #2 in line at the library. It's not looking promising for getting it read by Halloween, or even starting it by Halloween.


Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments I'm still #3 in line and it's looking like the first week of November is when it'll come in for my turn.


Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
I have a library copy and will start later tonight or tomorrow.
Aside from the front cover, there do not appear to be any illustrations.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Aww! Well, I'm not getting rid of my vintage 1970s edition any time soon! It's not like the pictures are important to the story, but I'd miss them if they weren't there.

Here's a few of hem so you can see what you're missing:
https://www.google.com/search?q=Hallo...


Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
It turns out mine IS illustrated! Very nice!
This is the first time I've ever heard of Samhain referred to as a death god! I thought it was the holiday or not?


Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
Well! That read was certainly a roller coaster ride! Was this novella ever made into a movie?


message 12: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Lila (formerly Jalilah) wrote: "Well! That read was certainly a roller coaster ride! Was this novella ever made into a movie?"

I'm so glad you asked that. Looks like it was made into an animated TV movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0191173/

I can't believe I never saw it but my library has it, yay!


message 13: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Lila (formerly Jalilah) wrote: "It turns out mine IS illustrated! Very nice!
This is the first time I've ever heard of Samhain referred to as a death god! I thought it was the holiday or not?"


Me either. From my (limited) reading about Samhain it was a holy day like a Sabbat. But I've also seen it referred to as a festival. All marking the end of summer, harvest, etc. I'm hoping to learn more by reading the following three books over the next week:

Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life by Jack Santino

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton

A Hallowe'en Anthology: Literary and Historical Writings Over the Centuries also by Lisa Morton


Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "Lila (formerly Jalilah) wrote: "It turns out mine IS illustrated! Very nice!
This is the first time I've ever heard of Samhain referred to as a death god! I thought it was the holiday or not?"

Me..."


Yes a Holy Day or Festival is what I meant. Not really a holiday.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
I've always heard it as a holy day/festival as well.

Leah, that's a massive amount of Halloween reading! I'm looking forward to hearing what you learn!


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
Terri Windling has been posting Halloween-related blogs: http://www.terriwindling.com/blog/

Thought I'd share! Love reading her blog.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
I thoroughly enjoyed The Halloween Tree! Bradbury's love for Halloween and Fall come across every page. So far, this is my favorite Bradbury.

The end was very fitting.


Portia | 36 comments Happy All Saints Day, everyone! My copy of The Halloween Tree is arriving momentarily!


Portia | 36 comments My copy arrived but I only had time to read 1/2, enough, however, for me to decide this is a wonderful book. I am really enjoying how Bradbury is tracing Halloween through history and different religions. I love the image he presents of the Romans destroying the Druids as the bells on camels jingle softly back in the Middle East. The supremely quiet way he announces the beginning of the new religion is striking.


Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I'm late to the party on this - despite hving owned my own copy for years. I can't even blame the library!

Lila (formerly Jalilah) wrote: "It turns out mine IS illustrated! Very nice!
This is the first time I've ever heard of Samhain referred to as a death god! I thought it was the holiday or not?"


I'd never heard this before but a google search shows a large number of websites claiming this is the case. They don't seem very credible though, and I'd never heard anything like that before now.

It seems to be especially prevalent on explicitly Christian websites.

This article on Pathos (which sounds pretty reliable, considering the number of names and specific dates cited) is pretty interesting - it talks about modern observance of Halloween/Samhain: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmanke...

THis one talks about the historical observance of it: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmanke...

One of the things it says is that we know very little about the ancient version of Samhain - we're not even entirely sure it had anything to do with the dead, though it did seem to have supernatural connections.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
Interesting reads! Thanks for sharing.


message 22: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 852 comments Better late than never. Actually this was a fun way to read about the customs and history of Halloween. Also it may be a bit of a stretch, but I think this will fit into the Religion book for the challenge this year.


Portia | 36 comments My friends who went to public school used to envy the fact that the Catholic School I attended had November 1 off. The nuns who ran the school would spend the Holy Day of Obligation in prayer and meditation, so we students got to stay up late on Halloween because we could sleep in the next day ;-)

I've always associated Halloween with religion as well as fun. I've also read that the Church created feast days so the peasants could get a day off.


message 24: by Leah (last edited Nov 09, 2016 04:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Lila (formerly Jalilah) wrote: "It turns out mine IS illustrated! Very nice!
This is the first time I've ever heard of Samhain referred to as a death god! I thought it was the holiday or not?"


Apparently this was misinformation started in 1786 by Charles Vallancey, a military engineer, who'd become obsessed with Ireland's ancient Celts. Vallancey believed that other linguists' translation of the Celtic Samhain as "summer's end" was wrong.
"Vallancey believed this was a 'false derivation', and went on to state that Samhain was actually a Celtic deity who was also known as 'BALSAB...for Bal is lord, and Sab death'." (source)
Vallancey's work turned into a sort of alternate history of Samhain, on which Ralph and Adelin Linton likely based their reference to "Samhain, Lord of the Dead" in Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, published in 1950.

I think at some point before he wrote The Halloween Tree Bradbury read the Linton book; hence, his reference to Samhain as a death god.

If anyone wants to read a concise, albeit somewhat scholarly, history of Halloween I recommend Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton. Like Melanti mentioned above, we actually know very little of the Celtic Samhain because there are no written records to substantiate research; only what's been passed down by way of folklore and traditions.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I had wrong about Halloween. It's only been in the last 30 years that scholars have really started to dig deep into its origins, so I look forward to learning more.

And even if Bradbury didn't get everything historically accurate, I still enjoyed The Halloween Tree the second time around, plus this time I was able to read the original hardcover with illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini.


Margaret | 3695 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "pparently this was misinformation started in 1786 by Charles Vallancey, a military engineer, who'd become obsessed with Ireland's ancient Celts. Vallancey believed that other linguists' translation of the Celtic Samhain as "summer's end" was wrong."

plus this time I was able to read the original hardcover with illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini.


Thanks for that info!

Next Halloween, I think I'll try and find the original version.


Rachel | 169 comments I was very excited to read this, but I'm struggling with it. I'm about halfway and keep putting it down. There is some incredible imagery (both in the writing and illustrations). That's the only bit keeping me going. For such a short book i'd like to finish it.

Did anyone see the animation? Do you like it and how did it compare?


Jalilah | 4468 comments Mod
Rachel wrote: "I was very excited to read this, but I'm struggling with it. I'm about halfway and keep putting it down. There is some incredible imagery (both in the writing and illustrations). That's the only bi..."

I haven't seen the animation. I too struggled at parts and others were a lot of fun. For me at least the parts I struggled with had to do with this wrtiting style common of this era. Like the songs of that time, it's often hard to understand what it is exactly they are talking about.


Rachel | 169 comments I just finished watching the animation. I liked it much more than the book. Much easier to follow along. I also liked that they cut the number of children in half, explained more about Pip in the beginning, and changed one of the characters to a girl.


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