This was such a perfect little book to help foster the Halloween spirit.
Ray Bradbury is a master of atmosphere. One of the most atmospheric Halloween books I’ve ever read is Something Wicked This Way Comes, and this tiny book spins just a compelling a spell. Bradbury just had an amazing grasp on what makes Halloween special. It’s a little dated, but in my opinion that just upped the nostalgia factor.
A group of boys is taken on a journey through time and space to understand the inspirations behind their favorite holiday. The history of Halloween has never been more fun than it is here, as presented by Mr. Moundshroud. Centuries are jumped through, continents are explored, and the ways different peoples honor their dead are revealed to these boy who’ve never seen any significance in Halloween beyond the fun of the costumes and trick-or-treating. As each boy learns the significance of their chosen costume, the essence of Halloween becomes more clear to them.
However, learning about Halloween isn’t the only purpose behind the boys’ unusual adventure. Their leader, Pipkin, has been kidnapped and taken through history, leading the boys on a wild Pipkin chase. But even as they search for their friend, the other boys begin to grasp that something is very wrong with Pipkin in the real world, and that this supernatural journey with Mr. Moundshroud might be their only hope of saving him.
There were things about The Halloween Tree that reminded me of other books I’ve loved, like The Graveyard book and A Monster Calls. It was sweet and funny and sad, and it basked in a children’s love of the spooky and being scared just a little. This would be such a fun book to read to an upper elementary or middle school class during the month of October, or even just to your own child to get them in the Halloween spirit while maybe teaching them just a little bit at the same time. It was just exactly right, spooky and fun and educational without feeling like a lesson.