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The Halloween Tree: Previously Unpublished Author's Preferred Text by Ray Bradbury and edited by Jon Eller

01/11/2005. Contributed by Pauline Morgan

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pub: Gauntlet Press, Colorado Springs. Price: $75.00 (US). 496 page limited edition. ISBN: 1-887368-80-9.

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In this world, there are many kinds of reader. There are those who pass on the book as soon as it has been read, some keep the volumes to re-read, some collect.

Collectors come in different varieties. There are those who cannot bear to part with any book that comes into their possession. Others are more specialised. Some collect first editions or signed copies. Then there are the completests. They want everything their chosen author has ever written, sometimes even different editions of the same book.

The Ray Bradbury completests will want this book. So will those who have a fascination with the evolution of a piece of work.

The book itself is an odd size, laid out as A4 landscape, so will be difficult to shelve. The cover is a painting by Bradbury hied it into children's novel. Thus, the next section of this book is a facsimile manuscript of the novelisation of the screenplay, complete with changes from 1971. Then we have the novel itself. The original publisher, Knopf, wanted a lot of changes but Bradbury's preferred text has been restored in this version. The beautiful black and white illustrations by Joseph Mugnaini are also reproduced here. This is followed by a table showing all the changes that were made between Bradbury's submitted typescript, the first edition, and the restored edition. There were a lot of them. The next section is the 1992 script for the animated teleplay. This film appears to have attained the same status in the United States as Raymond Briggs' The Snowman' has in Britain. It is now shown every Halloween.

The final section of the book contains black and white photographs of the covers of various editions from various countries, as well as a bibliographical checklist.

For those of you who do not know the story, the script was conceived as an adventure with added educational value. A gang of youngsters venture out on Halloween to go 'trick or treating'. Each wears a different costume. At a gothic mansion, they meet Mr. Moundshroud who takes them back into the past to discover the origins of the festival. As the story evolved from screenplay to book, the dimension of the hunt for their friend, Pipkin, is added. Pipkin hasn't joined them but tells them to meet him at Moundshroud's house. They see him snatched away into the dark past. During their adventures they get glimpses of him, usually in dire circumstances. Near the end, the gang is told that if they are willing to give up a year at the end of their lives, Pipkin can be saved. With each version of the story, this element is refined.

For those who have only read the book and seen the 1992 film, they may wonder if including a girl in the latter is a sop to equality. It is actually a reversion to the original as there always was a girl in the gang. Somehow, she got lost in the book version.

This is a fascinating book but it is an expensive limited edition. It gives an insight into the way one of the great fantasy writers develops an idea. The final version is the best and most polished, as might be expected.

Pauline Morgan

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