Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, 2008)

Lynn: An assassin, the Man Jack, murders three members of a sleeping family as the true target, a little boy, climbs out of his crib and toddles up the hill to the graveyard eluding the killer. A ghostly couple shields the child and then decides to raise him, naming him Nobody Owens because he looks like nobody but himself. It takes a graveyard to raise this child and Bod is the adored pet of the spectral residents whose living years spanned the centuries. As Bod begins to push at the restrictions of childhood, he once again comes to the attention of the mysterious group who seek his death.

Gaiman’s storytelling abilities shine here as he riffs on Jungle Book, nursery rhymes, and vampire lore in a truly unique coming of age story. Humor lightens the somewhat melancholy tone of the book that perfectly matches the memorable characters - living and dead. The ghouls are totally awesome too! For audio book fans, the audio of this book is wonderful with Gaiman doing the narration.
Cindy: I've been following the debate on the Adbooks listserv about whether this is a teen book or not. Bod is young, but the story starts out with the murder of his family and ultimately, the story leads up to Bod's preparation to set out on his own "to seek his fortune" and see the world without the aid of the ghouls who have raised him. The gorgeous writing and the successful construction of each chapter that can be read as a stand alone short story creates a novel that can be enjoyed by 4th grade through adult. After coming to that conclusion I visited Gaiman's website to see if there was something I could link to for fun, and found a blog entry of Gaiman's with his opinion about the audience for the book. It's always a pleasure to know that Neil has your back....


PamL said...

I loved this book as well. I particularly liked the cast of graveyard ghosts, and how the author remained true to their time periods (particularly the poet!)

It's weird enough to appeal to boys, but girls will like it as well. I can't see why it shouldn't be part of a middle school and high school collection -- there may be more sensitivity to it at the elementary school level.