Sunday, April 26, 2009

It Takes a Graveyard to Raise a Child

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy-an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family. . .

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Dave Mckean
Start & Finished: 2/12/09- 2/15/09
Published: 2008
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 307 (Hardcover)
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Official Book Site

"The Graveyard Book it's got scary bits, but it’s a very funny book. It's a very loving and warm
and friendly book with an awful lot of dead people in it. And it has vicious murders and sweet headstones and it has a long dead witch and it has a hero who I think is the best hero I've ever written. I love him and his name is Bod..." Neil Gaiman said of his Newbery Award winning novel.

This story was probably one of the best Newbery award winners I’ve ever read (or at the very least, in the top 5). It’s not spooky (despite the cemetery’s occupants-, which includes not only ghosts but other creatures as well), it’s not scary either. It’s entertaining, sweet, and occasionally funny. True, it’s kind of “dark” but it doesn’t come off that way at all despite the beginning. One of the reasons why I liked it so much is it is structured so that each story can be read almost entirely separately as although the main plot line is never compromised, just about every chapter is a new adventure (kind of like EB White’s Stuart Little, but it flows better). This would be a great story to read maybe just before bedtime (the chapters are a little long though).

There are several illustrations in the book by an illustrator named Dave Mckean that the author has collaborated with several times. Personally, I didn't really care one way or the other for the illustrations. To me they were just there (like Quentin Blake who did the illustrations for Roald Dahl, whom ironically Gaiman’s children literature reminds me of), not exactly pleasing to the eye but they conveyed the author’s story almost as if he had drew them himself.

Inspired partly by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman has said that he may write a second Graveyard Book (since Kipling did write a second Jungle Book, "it's not inconceivable") and it would be interesting to see Bod on his travels and whether or not if he ever makes it back to the graveyard where he grew up or if he ever finds out his birth name. In an interview the author said, "Children tend to read The Graveyard Book as an exciting sort of book with a hero they would love to be. Parents I think, tend to read it essentially as a giant metaphor for childhood and the joy and tragedy of parenthood," but all I know is that this was truly one of the finest books I’ve read in a long time and at the end I was left with tears and the strangest feeling... of wanting to read it again.

Links: Author Wikipedia, Illustrator Wikipedia, Book Wikipedia, Author's Reaction to Winning Newbery, Discussion Questions, Video Tour (with author reading entire book)
Interview: Borders (video), Florida News, Mtv Movie Possibility

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  1. I won this in a Twitter giveaway and have been dying to read it but it's stuck in my TBR pile. I hope I can get to it soon. I LOVE your reviews. Thanks!!

  2. I loved this too! I'm so glad you posted the interview--I hadn't seen it before.

  3. I read this aloud to my kids - we all loved it and I was definitely choked up during the last chapter. :)

  4. this is in my tbr pile but I think it will wait until Carl's Halloween challenge!

  5. I read Coraline earlier this year and loved it, so I really want to read more of Gaiman's work. This one tops my wish list. Great review.

  6. Ooo, thank you for this review! I keep seeing snippits of comments for this book and it's something I want to read soon!

    I have never read Neil Gaiman before, but this book actually interests me!

  7. Great review, Jen. I REALLY want to read this book. I have been digging Gaiman lately. The ones I want to read most now are Graveyard Book, Fragile Things, Neverwhere and Stardust.

    I'll probably wait until this hits paperback, though.

    BTW, I started the Lightning Thief this weekend. Love it so far. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. I'm glad you liked this book! I wasn't so sure about it when I first read it, but I'm thinking of rereading it and also reading it at bedtime to my daughters. I bet I'll like it more the second time around :)

  9. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one. I plan on reading it but haven't had the chance yet. Great review!

  10. Oh I've been reading several reviews of this one recently. It sounds so good and am hoping to make this my second Neil Gaiman read.

  11. I read this book and loved it! Your review was spot on! I enjoyed the interview!

  12. MonieG: I know what that's like! Hope you're able to get to it soon!

    Shelley: Isn't it wonderful? Glad I could help :)

    Carrie K: I listened/watched Gaiman read it via his video book tour while I followed along in the book. It was truly something special!

    DesLily: That was my original plan but I just couldn't do it lol.

    Bermudaonion: I had to read Coraline after I'd finished this one. Graveyard is definitely my favorite book by this author though! Hope you read it soon and thanks!

    Cat: Truly worth reading. :o) Glad you enjoyed the review! My first Gaiman was American Gods but I wish it had been this one.

    Paxton: Thanks! I tried to read Neverwhere and Stardust but I couldn't really get in the mood to so I kept putting them down until they were due back at the library. :( Really ought to pick those up again... Oh! I'm so glad you liked The Lightning Thief! The last one in the series comes out in a couple of months I believe.

    Mo from Unmainstream Mom Reads: This was seriously one of my favorite books this year. I believe I'd like to re-read The Jungle Book before I re-read this one.

    Samantha.1020: Thank you! Hope you do read it soon :)

    Iliana: It was my third Gaiman (if you don't count a poem and unsuccessful attempts to read two of his others) but it was my favorite of all!

    Sharon: Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed them :o)

  13. I really ended up liking this book! Gaiman can be a bit hit or miss for me, so I am always happy to find a hit!

  14. This is definitely going to be on my list of books to read for my Neil Gaiman month in November. Thanks for the great review AND the additional resources.

  15. Hi Lady :) I'm definitely going to read this one. I love what the author said, "Children tend to read The Graveyard Book as an exciting sort of book with a hero they would love to be. Parents I think, tend to read it essentially as a giant metaphor for childhood and the joy and tragedy of parenthood." What a great quote. I've heard really great things about Gaiman as an author. I'm excited for this one.
    Thanks for the great review :)

  16. Great review, Jen! This is yet another one I really am looking forward to reading. I love Neil Gaiman's writing.

  17. Kailana: He's that way for me too but his "children's books" all seem to be winners!

    Literate Housewife: I'm glad you enjoyed my review! Hope you really like the book as much as I did :)

    The Chic Geek: Thank you. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

    Wendy: It's very good. I believe I'll re-read it around Halloween this year even if it isn't scary.

  18. I'm glad you enjoyed this so much. I loved it as well and my husband is reading it at the moment as well and loving it too!

  19. I liked it too! And it also reminded me of Roald Dahl, whom I haven't read since I was a kid! Coincidence?

    I however really don't want to see a sequel. Sequels just ruin good books. I'm hoping he leaves Bod well enough alone.



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