The Halloween Tree

By: Ray Bradbury

On Halloween night, eight trick-or-treaters gather in front the haunted house at the edge of town. They are ready for the fright of their lives when Something whisks their friend Pip away into the darkness. Only the odd and macabre Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud can help them save their friend by taking them all on a journey through time and space, deep into the mysteries of the spookiest of all nights. Meanwhile, Pip, sick and lost, has little time to spare. 

The Halloween Tree is a children’s novel by the brilliant and accomplished Ray Bradbury. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Wait. Aren’t you 24? Why are you reading a children’s book?” Well, if you’d shut up for a second, I’ll tell you.

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that Ray Bradbury is my favorite author and I’m well on my way to reading everything he ever wrote. I’m not going to skip a children’s story just because I’m an adult. Plus, it’s about my favorite holiday, so I wanted to read it. Unsurprisingly, even in a children’s story, Bradbury focuses on taking a serious and dark topic and spinning it in a friendlier and kinder light. In this case, The Halloween Tree focuses on Death both as a concept and a personification. 

I firmly believe that we should talk to children about real issues like death not as something to fear but rather as the inevitable consequence of life. They should grow up knowing that death isn’t there to rob us of all the years we had left but is instead a friend to greet us at the end of a life well lived. Bradbury handles this topic beautifully, and I honestly wish that I had owned books like this to keep my heart warm when I was a child. I was terrified to die all the way until I was a junior in college when I found philosophy and finally my own mind. Thinking back now, I can’t help but wonder if reading Bradbury’s stories growing up would have made the world seem less threatening and sad. But knowing my mind then, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated them as I do now. Funny how perspective changes when you age.

There’s a plot twist at the end that I genuinely didn’t see coming and made the story that much more meaningful. This is 145 pages of pure poetry that reads nothing like a children’s story. Even the language is more adult. I think I saw words in this novel that I’ve never heard people say in my whole life, but maybe that was just how people talked back in 1972. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t alive then.

On a side note, I think Mr. Moundshroud inspired Jack Skellington. I haven’t looked it up because I want to keep believing it’s true. There are just too many similarities. 

Anyway, go out and buy this book for the child in your life (inner or otherwise), read it out load, and appreciate it for the piece of art it is. You can thank me later. 

Overall rating: 5

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