Book4 10

The Halloween Tree (1972)

Happy Halloween! It’s no good for the digestion to just eat one thing over and over again (even if that one thing is Reese’s peanut butter cups), so this week I am looking at some regular books. Everything’s a sourcebook, right?

This is Ray Bradbury’s classic, The Halloween Tree (1972). There are lots of different editions of this book, but I think the first edition cover, which depicts the titular tree, is the best. And that’s largely why I’m here: Joe Mugnaini’s gorgeous illustrations. I picked a couple prime interiors, but my real faves are the illustrations of various masks that top each chapter. Every one is a delight.

The story is…a little dry for my taste. The mysterious Mr. Moundshroud takes a group of children through time to ancient Egypt, the ceremonies of the Druids, to witches sabbaths and Notre Dam and Mexican cemeteries to teach them about the evolution of Halloween and the role fear has taken in the process of civilization. It is sort of a lite version of the Golden Bough at best, at worst a very educational lesson hiding within a spoop story. You’ll learn a lot, probably, but it isn’t exactly thrilling, if you know what I mean.

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