March 11, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 4:56 pm by suebe2

graveyard1The Graveyard Book (AR 5 . 1 )

by Neil Gaiman

HarperCollins

 

I chose to listen to this year’s Newbery winner as an audio book because I was in a bit of a hurry to read it before my 10 year-old son.  He had just gotten it as a birthday gift from his great aunt and uncle and somehow I had it in my head that this was YA.  My mistake.  It is solidly middle grade.

The good thing about listening to it is that I got to hear the author read the book.  Gaiman has a great voice and did a wondrous job with the variety of accents.  That said, the book contains some illustrations which I largely missed. 

On to the book itself.

It takes a village to raise a child, but what if that village is actually a cemetery?  One night a tiny boy toddles into the cemetery near his home.  Hot on his trail is, not mum and dad, but the man who has just murdered the rest of his family.  A ghostly couple saves the day, giving the boy shelter and taking him into their home — think mausoleum. 

This book could be terrifically grim.  After all, a family has been murdered.  The boy grows up in a cemetery.  He encounters various supernatural creatures — several of whom are quite un-lovely.   But potentially gruesome features, like all those dead bodies, are dealt with in a spare, matter-of-fact way.  No gore.  No goo.  Nothing terribly disgusting.  Hmm.  Might that revelation turn off some potential boy readers?  I hope not.

After all, this is a fantastic boy book.  Bod (not Bob although I do make the occasional typo) is curious, adventuresome and sometimes disobedient.   He is a hero in the way that every boy (and many a girl) dreams of being — standing up for himself, his friend, and, let’s just say, the bad guys do not come out on top. 

Gaiman’s talents in writing graphic novels shine. This is a fast paced story with well-developed characters.   Any boy with a gross sense of humor will love it.  Any boy who dreams of being a hero will see himself in Bod.  Reluctant readers, be warned.  This may be the book you simply cannot resist.

–SueBE

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