Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (illus. by Dave McKean) (HarperCollins, 2008)

Recommended for ages 12+

Created from an idea author Neil Gaiman had in 1985 that would create a "Jungle Book in a graveyard", The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody "Bod" Owens, orphaned as a toddler and raised by the ghosts of a graveyard he wanders into after his family is murdered. His guardian, Silas, is neither dead nor alive and can navigate both worlds in order to assure Nobody's needs are taken care of.

The problem is, Jack - the man who murdered Nobody's family - is still at large, and he's still looking for Bod to finish his business. He's working for a secret society who has ordered the boy's death, but as long as Bod stays within the confines of the graveyard, he is safe. As he gets older, though, Nobody wants to venture outside and see more of the world and have human friends.

Like Coraline and Gaiman's other work for younger readers, The Graveyard Book is a dark fantasy, yet he manages to make the fact that a boy is raised by ghosts and the undead charming. Nobody is a sweet boy who grows up loved for and cared for by the spirits of the graveyard in which he lives, and the supernatural beings - Silas and Bod's tutor, Miss Lupescu - who are charged with his care. Mr. Gaiman's descriptions again let the reader's imagination run wild, with funny and wry descriptions of everyone from the inhabitants of the graveyard to the sinister murderer, Jack Frost.

The Graveyard Book received the 2009 Newbery Medal, Hugo Award for Best Novel, and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book; it also won the 2010 Carnegie Medal.

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