Book Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Ages: 10 and up (I'd probably suggest 12 and up - see my note below)
Publisher: Harper Collins (reprint edition September 28, 2010)
Awards: Newberry Medal, Carnegie Medal, Hugo Award, Locus Award
Why Did I Choose It? Besides the obvious - this book is a Newberry Medal Award book of which I am determined to read them all - this was a 'ghost story' so to speak and as a child growing up, I was always drawn to ghost stories and those 'scary' stories of the supernatural world. In addition, the book was recommended to me buy a blogger friend who also wrote a review and you can find that here 😉
A Bit From The Back Cover: It takes a graveyard to raise a child. Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy- an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack- who has already killed Bod's family.
Review: This was an unusual Newberry Medal book in that it certainly possessed an unusual telling (ghost story) with very unusual characters (ghosts, ghouls, and a few lone humans) for a Newberry! Needless to say, I LOVED it! Now keep in mind, I love ghost stories... and I love Mr. Gaiman's imagination to come up with the idea of a young human child being raised by ghosts!
The book starts a little scary...or at least could be for a young reader. It basically tells a tale of Nobody Owens, a toddler, narrowly escaping (unbeknownst to him) being murdered and leaves behind his parents who actually have been murdered and climbing the hill to the graveyard. There the grave imagination begins.... (pun intended...sorry). The book follows young Bod through his childhood weaving in relationships with his 'adoptive' ghost parents (not his biological parents mind you), a caretaker, a young human friend, a creature called the Sleer, and an unjustly executed witch among others and ends....well, I won't tell anymore of the story as you really must read it for yourself.
But I will say this - It's a wonderful tale weaving in bits of fantasy, 'scariness', humor, friendship, and mystery all in one unforgettable piece. Furthermore, the book leaves an enormous amount of possible discussions to be had with youth. First of all is the discussion of whether ghosts exist or not....do you believe in them? And most importantly, what does your Faith teach you? Secondly, the book shows a different relationshiop between Bod and his adoptive parents and that between Bod and Silas, another character in the graveyard. This certainly portrays reality for youth today and the relationship they have with parents and that of other adults. Another third discussion point is the goodness displayed by what would typically be seen as 'evil' type characters (Silas, Miss Lupescu and Eliza) - what can be said about how we judge others according to appearance and social status? Can those who are good do something 'evil'? Can those who appear 'evil' do good or actually be good at heart? There are many other points that can be made and discussed, of course. But these stick out to me the most.
Other Books By This Author: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Stardust, Coraline, Sandman, Unnatural Creatures (Stories selected by Neil Gaiman), Anansi Boys and others.
I am actually rather eager to read more by Mr. Gaiman now- I will admit, until now, I had not.... (horrors, I know...)
*Special Note for Parents - The novel does contain bits of violence, murder, and death. If I were to rate it comparative to movies of this day, it would most likely be PG. I 'm certain that teens could easily handle the material in the novel. But parents of younger children, say below 12, should probably read it for themselves to judge their child's ability to handle the story.
On another side note..... it IS being turned into a film directed by Ron Howard..... hmmmmm...... always a dilemma.... should I go see the movie when it comes out? Will it just totally ruin the book??
Read the book.... and let me know if you're going to go see the film!