Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Dry-clean my soul and hang it out to dry"

Ray Bradbury is an excellent story-teller in my, ever not-so-humble, opinion, this is a man who knows how to use language (though i do have to wonder why a soul~or anything for that matter would need to be hung out to dry if it had been dry-cleaned~but maybe Bradbury didn't originate that particular gem~and there were oh-so-many quotes i loved from this book). On a fellow librarian’s recommendation (i forget who~isn’t that just like me?) i picked up his juvenile fiction novel The Halloween Tree which i thought might make a nice read for the season, and it did. I started it earlier this evening (or last evening~i never have figured out what to call the night that started on the previous date but feels like the same night) but, anyway... The Halloween Tree is about a group of nine boys (or eight depending upon how you count) who gather on Halloween eve for a night of trick-or-treating (what else) and a few scares end up finding out the real meaning of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in, as i just recently discovered~something an agnostic pagan such as myself really should have known before now~dontcha think?) from one Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (sense any meaning THERE?).

Now, Samhain, being the start of the New Year for us pagans is also one of our most important nights so its real meaning is important. It was also important to many cultures throughout history as a harvest festival celebration, appeasing the gods (or god) for good productivity in the new season, as well as a recognition of the importance of death in life (and the continuing cycle of life and death). Dia de los Muertos is still celebrated and recognized as such today, and retains much of its original meaning. Bradbury missed a few points (how could he not, given the format?), and, even though he tried to move chronologically through history, there were a few unexplained missteps.

I am sure there were probably a few frightening moments in The Halloween Tree, though, as it was written for a younger audience, they might have slid by me. It is an excellent seasonal teaching story that is very well told (and features boys as main characters, with male appeal, always a plus) though if you get a chance go for the beautifully illustrated hardcover which has Bradbury's original text restored. Highly recommended...

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