About a month ago, a friend of mine named Chad mentioned that he was reading Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree again. Apparently he rereads the book at least once a year since it is one of his favorites. I had never even heard of this particular story, but was intrigued immediately because one of my favorite books is Fahrenheit 451 also by Ray Bradbury.
So intrigued was I, that I ordered myself a copy from Amazon for like three dollars. And now it's here! And since Halloween is drawing near, I thought it would be the perfect time to not only read the book for my own enjoyment, but to also talk about it here on my blog. Something to get us all into the Halloween spirit, ya know?
So starting today, I will read one chapter daily, reading the last chapter on October 31st. The chapters are short, since it's a children's book (published by Yearling, 1972) but written ever-so-eloquently.
So here goes.
The first chapter opens up describing a small, midwestern town on the afternoon of Halloween. We are quickly introduced to who I'm assuming is going to be our main character, thirteen-year-old Tom Skelton.
Lucky! he thought. What a name you got! Tom Skelton. Great for Halloween! Everyone calls you Skeleton! So what do you wear? Bones.After getting into his costume, he bounds outside and meets up with all of his other friends - eight to be exact - and the boys try to guess who's behind each mask. There's a Skeleton (our Tom), a Witch, an Apeman, a Gargoyle, a Beggar, a Mummy, a Ghost, and Death. But wait. There should be nine of them...
They sniffed each other, like fearful beasts. "Pipkin's not here!" How did they know? They were all hidden behind masks. And yet, and yet... They could feel his absence.They all ran to Pipkin's house "blown like leaves before a storm," and realize almost instantly that something isn't right. The house doesn't look right. Doesn't feel right. One of the boys throws something at the door.
They waited, sad for no reason, lost for no reason. They thought of Pipkin and a Halloween that might be a rotten pumpkin with a dead candle if, if, if -- Pipkin wasn't there. Come on, Pipkin. Come out and save the Night!And here is where the first chapter ends, leaving me very anxious to find out where this Pipkin is. I wonder what kind of boy he must be, if the thought of a Halloween without him seems so utterly lost.
So far I am loving this book. In just five pages, I'm already immersed in the world these boys inhabit. The imagery Bradbury conveys through his words makes the autumn weather and the provincial neighborhood streets seem tangibly real. There is a sense of whimsy and mystery so far, and I wish that my childhood had been as adventurous and free. I can't wait to discover what more is in store, both for me and for them.