The Spooky Old Tree

As many of you know, Hot Pink Heather and I had a daughter last year. She is now 1 year old, which I figured was old enough for one of the favorite books from my youth: The Berenstain Bears’ The Spooky Old Tree.

Sure, it’s a little scary and might scar her for life, but that was a small price to pay to share this bit of nostalgia with my offspring. I can’t remember where I read The Spooky Old Tree. I seem to remember it being the school library, but that seems unlikely as it is too young a book for my library memories. But I do remember reading it. And not only did I love it because it was age-appropriate spooky (being about a Scooby-Doo on the spooky scale), but I loved it because the artwork suggested a large structure with lots of areas to explore. As you probably know, I always loved it when something could be contained in something else (the NES games in the NES, the Strolling Bowling ball in the bowling alley). Well, I also loved pictures that showed large castles or dungeons with lots of nooks and crannies. And The Spooky Old Tree had that in the titular tree, as you can see from this picture:

In fact, The Spooky Old Tree really goes above and beyond by having a logical arrangement to the tree. You can see that in the picture as well. As you see in the early pages of the book, the bear cubs went in through the hollow branch hole and slid down. The next area they came across was the rickety old stair with the crocodiles, which is at the bottom of the above picture, right where it should be if the slid down after entering. Then the call to the hall with the suits of armor. It must be behind what we see in this picture. Then they come upon the great bear, and the rest you can see for yourself. So it was a completely logical arrangement, which just makes it even cooler.

Now I remembered all that, probably because I stared at it for hours as a kid. What I didn’t remember is that the tree had a face. See the nose (which is how the bears get in) and the eyes?

What I realized as I was reading this to my daughter is that this face looks very familiar.

Yeah, it’s the entrance to Dungeon 1 in The Legend of Zelda. No wonder I knew to go into that tree as soon as I saw it. I had been trained by the Berenstain Bears!

It was a lot of fun reading this book with my daughter today. I hope she comes to love it as much as I did when I was young. And if she doesn’t, well, then I hope it scares her real bad!


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

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