Bibliographic information: The Halloween Tree. Ray Bradbury. Yearling, 1972. $5.50. 145p. ISBN-13: 9780375803017.
Summary: A group of eight friends, all boys, get all dressed up in their best costumes and head out to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. They soon discover that a ninth Friend, Pipkin, has been taken away on an adventure that could be the end of his life. With the help of a shrouded guy named Moundshroud, the boys chase after their friend across space and through time. Traveling through such places as Ancient Egypt and Greek all the way to Mexico on the Day of the Dead. The origins of Halloween is revealed through their travels, as well as, the role of death and how it has shaped civilization.Will the boys reach Pipkin in time to save him and will he be the same in the end?
Reading level and interest level: RL: ages 10 and up IL: ages 12 and up
Review: Ray Bradbury’s work always has a meaningful core that slaps you in the face and makes you understand things on a whole new level and that is just what The Halloween Tree does. The Halloween Tree represents the influences for the traditions of different cultures have about Halloween and how they all merge into one. Pipkin is taken on a journey of life and death and his friends chase after him trying to keep him alive, along the way they learn the origins of Halloween and how other cultures celebrate the holiday. In the end, each boy gives up a year of his life for Pipkin so that he can live. Children will love this story’s lyrical text and learning about the origins of Halloween.
Readers’ annotation: On the night of Halloween 8 friends are swept away by the devil on a fantastical adventure to chase after a ninth friend who is battling death.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book discusses the death of a friend. Teens can read this book as a way to cope with a friend of theirs who may be struggling with a terminal disease or with a friend who has died. The kids in this book are brave and able to look death in the eye as a way to help their friend through this tough time. This will encourage kids to not be afraid of their situation.
Issues present: Many people may think that this title is too scary for young adults. It mentions death casually and has some scary creatures that could be considered frightening to some. However, children could use this book as a way to fight their fears of death and dying and be able to look at it with a different perspective. Also, they can fight their fears of things that go bump in the night be reading about these courageous kids and their adventures.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce various characters. – especially Pipkin.
Talk about general idea of Halloween, then how it used to be.
Would you take a ride with the devil, Death himself?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: Halloween, death
Readalikes: A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Secret of the Indian
Author’s website: http://www.raybradbury.com/
Reviews: Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ray-bradbury/the-halloween-tree/
Why I chose it: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a long known challenged book. Many of his other works are just as likely to be challenged and I wanted to add something of his to my collection, but Fahrenheit 451 is long overdone, so I decided on this one for my collection. Not as many people have heard of it, and it was a favorite movie of mine when I was younger.