Autumn
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"If I could have chosen my birthday, Halloween would be it."
-Ray Bradbury

Celebrate the season of Halloween, Ray Bradbury’s favorite holiday, with these gothic imaginings of the fantastic.

Books

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree, Bradbury’s tribute to his favorite holiday, is not just a story about encounters with the supernatural, but an entertaining history about the holiday’s roots in the timeless struggle between good and evil, faith and doubt–and Bradbury’s enduring belief that the power of love and friendship can carry us through it all.

The story follows eight youngsters’ Halloween night travels across time and space as they try to find and save their friend, Pipkin, from death. A ghoulish Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud  guides the children as they learn about Egyptian myths of the harvest, El Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, and more. As in so many of Bradbury’s plots, characters must become curious about the world around them if they hope to solve the dilemmas they face. Once the children discover the origins of Halloween and the meanings behind their own costumes, they are equipped to act.
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Something Wicked This Way Comes

What could be a better Halloween read than the story Ray Bradbury judged the “best of all the things I have written”?

As the weather turns crisp on the twenty-third of October, a carnival unexpectedly arrives in  the seemingly idyllic Green Town. Best friends Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, who long to escape the confines of childhood and discover the excitement of being grown up, sneak out in the night to watch the newcomers set up their show on the outskirts of town. Hidden in the dark, the friends glimpse hints of the frightening truth about Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show’s strange and horrific powers and realize that there is danger in their midst–danger that the adults around them ignore. These autumn people of the carnival, who rise from the dust to tempt the souls of those yearning for something they do not have, pursue the boys through a narrative that is all the more suspenseful for combining the familiar landscape of a small town childhood with the eerie sounds and images of the evil that lies in wait for the unsuspecting.
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The October Country

This collection of the macabre and magical celebrates its 65th anniversary on October 25th, 2020. Bradbury selected and polished fifteen stories that were previously published in Dark Carnival and added four new ones, so those who dare to enter The October Country will be frightened by some of the author’s most lyrical prose. Bradbury moves normal characters through strange situations and shows us strange beings trying to navigate the gamut of normal human emotions.

“The Homecoming,” the story of a human boy who feels estranged from his family of witches, vampires, mummies, and other supernatural beings despite his love for them, will bring a hopeful smile. Others, like “The Small Assassin,” the story of an infant intent on killing his parents, will, like a strong midnight wind in autumn, chill readers to the bone.
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Films

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Disney’s production of Ray Bradbury’s book retains the poetry of the original in both the dialogue and visual landscape, making it an exceptionally haunting Halloween film. The opening scene of a Norman Rockwell boys’ paradise of midwestern fields dotted with small towns suggest that all is right with the world. That normalcy is destroyed when Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival pulls into town in the middle of the night with no engineer at the wheel and no passengers in the eerily lit cars that speed by. Two best friends, twelve-year old polar opposites born on either side of midnight on Halloween, realize that the carnival is not what it seems as the sinister showman Mr. Dark offers townspeople who feel some deep loss or regret the fulfillment of their impossible dreams.

An amazing cast brings Bradbury’s award-winning script to the screen. Jason Robards offers a thoughtful and sonorous portrayal of a tired and despairing older father who yearns to be young again. Jonathan Pryce plays Mr. Dark with a frighteningly assured assumption that temptation always triumphs over good and Pam Grier appears as the Dust Witch, the embodiment of that temptation.
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The Halloween Tree

Ray Bradbury wrote and narrated this Emmy Award winning 1993 version of The Halloween Tree for Hanna Barbara. It is an entertaining story full of surprise and suspense, but it is also a lesson on the origins of Halloween. On Halloween night, a group of youngsters embark on a journey to rescue their ill friend Pip, who has stolen one of  the jack-o-lanterns  hanging from a massive tree on the grounds of an ancient mansion– a jack-o-lantern with Pip’s own face carved into the flesh of the pumpkin.

Leonard Nimoy voices their ghoulish guide, Mr. Moundshroud, who promises to help them save Pip if they are willing to open their eyes and learn about the connections between the gargoyles of Notre Dame, the Mexican Day of the Dead, Samhain, All Hallows Eve, their own trick-or-treat traditions, and the bonds they share. Once they have traveled back in time and around the world, one of the children realizes how, together, they can save their friend.

Children and adults will enjoy the fast-paced adventure and interesting bits of information woven together in a film that will become an annual Halloween tradition.
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Short Stories

“The Jar”

Charlie buys a curiosity from a carnival sideshow that soon becomes the talk of the town. Read

“The Dead Man”

“Odd Martin” wanders the town telling everyone that he drowned in a flood that destroyed his farm. Come Halloween, when the separation between the living and the dead  begins to evaporate, they may find out if he is telling the truth. Read

“The Black Ferris”

Two young boys investigate the suspicious goings-on at the carnival that has arrived in town and discover that Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show may plan to steal more than jewels.  Read

“The Homecoming”

As a family of supernatural beings prepares for a grand reunion, their foundling human son tries to understand where he fits in with  the mummies, witches, and vampires who, in his home, are more normal than he is. Read

“Let’s Play Poison”

Mr. Howard, a substitute school teacher and general curmudgeon, has a less than ideal relationship with the neighborhood children who often play a game called “poison” on the sidewalk outside his home.  It looks like an innocent pastime, but something more sinister could lie beneath the childish play. Read

“The October Game”

Mitch has never liked autumn, but one Halloween he seems to get into the spirit by staging a special game with his wife and skeleton-costumed daughter in their darkened cellar. Read