Book Reviews · Books vs. Movies · Horror · Young Readers/Middle Grade Fiction

Book vs. Movie: The Halloween Tree

October has officially arrived, and I’ve really enjoyed spending the past couple of days reading spooky books as part of Seasons of Reading’s FrightFall Readathon. The book I chose as my first spooky read of the season was The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury.

The Halloween Tree tells the story of a group of eight boys, who have gathered to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Realizing that one of their friends is missing, the boys quickly go to his house to collect him. Their friend Pipkin, who doesn’t appear to be feeling well, tells them to go on ahead, and that he will catch up with them at a haunted house near the edge of town.

The group rushes off to the haunted house, where they meet a strange man named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, who offers to help them learn more about Halloween. Pipkin arrives shortly thereafter, but before he can join his friends, Pipkin is taken away by some unknown force. The boys, with the help of Mr. Moundshroud, must travel to different Halloween celebrations throughout the world and through time if they have any hope of saving their friend.

I’m a big fan of Ray Bradbury’s work, so choosing to read The Halloween Tree as my first spooky read of the season was kind of a no-brainer. This was my second time reading this book, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time I read it.

Personally, I don’t find The Halloween Tree particularly scary, but it’s very atmospheric. Bradbury does a great job with his descriptions of the various locations (and time periods) that the boys and Mr. Moundshroud visit, and it really put me in the mood for cool, windy nights and falling leaves.

The book includes several black-and-white illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini, which really add to the overall mood of the book. One of my favorite illustrations, which comes near the beginning of the book, shows Mr. Moundshroud’s house with the Halloween Tree in the front yard. It’s a really cool picture!

The Halloween Tree was adapted into an animated, made-for-television movie in 1993, which I had the opportunity to watch for the very first time this year.

There are a number of differences between the movie adaptation and the original novel, many of which are related to scenes which were left out, added, or altered in some way.

Other differences are related to the characters themselves. Along with some changes to the character and motivation of Mr. Moundshroud, the number of characters has been decreased, which affects the times and places they visit. The movie adaptation follows only four trick-or-treaters (as opposed to eight), one of whom is a girl named Jenny, who was not in the original book.

Despite these changes, I was really impressed with the quality of this adaptation. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that Ray Bradbury wrote the script. In fact, according to IMDb, he actually won an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.”

The movie has a great cast of voice actors, which includes Ray Bradbury as the narrator, and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Moundshroud. I also really liked the art style and the soundtrack, and I think it’s a safe bet that I will be watching this movie again next October.

If you enjoy stories about Halloween, I highly recommend taking the time to read The Halloween Tree for yourself. While the book was written for a middle grade audience, I definitely think that it will appeal to teenage and adult readers as well. I also recommend watching the animated movie adaptation, which is fun and fast-paced. While there are a few moments that might be scary for younger viewers, it could definitely be enjoyed by the whole family.

Happy spooky reading!

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