The man Jack sets out to kill the whole family, especially the baby, barely a toddler, but the child wanders away in the night, ending up in the nearby graveyard. Mistress Owens and her husband, ghosts, both of them, dead 250 years now, discover the newly orphaned boy and they become his adoptive parents. Named Nobody Owens, or Bod for short, the boy is given the Freedom of the Graveyard, and taught by his mysterious guardian, Silas, who isn't dead, but doesn't seem to be quite alive, either. Silas is able to travel between the living world and the graveyard, and brings Bod the food and supplies a growing child needs. In the graveyard, the boy learns important lessons about Fading, Sliding, and Dreamwalking, and encounters shadowy murky characters like the tattooed Indigo Man, the Sleer, and a trio of raggedy ghouls. As Silas says, "It will take a graveyard" to raise this child and keep him safe from the man Jack, who will be looking to finish his job.
You'll develop quite an affection for the long-dead inhabitants of this atmospheric English graveyard who look after Bod. Gaiman, beloved by readers for his macabre fiction book Coraline, wondered what it would be like to write a book like Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, but set in a graveyard. His audio CD recording of the book is well worth hearing, as this is a Newbery Medal winner kids will want to listen to more than once, though certainly never at bedtime. I found it vexing that the book ended with still-unexplained details about Jack and Silas and Bod, but it appears that Gaiman is planning a sequel, so that's a relief.
Steer readers who like being scared silly to another fiendishly horrifying series, Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice, starting with Book One: The Revenge of the Witch.
Reviewed by : JF.
Themes : FANTASY. NEWBERY MEDAL. ORPHANS. SUPERNATURAL.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- The Graveyard Book manages the remarkable feat of playing delightful jazz riffs on Kiplings classic Jungle Books. One might call this book a small jewel, but in fact its much bigger within than it looks from the outside. – Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
- After finishing The Graveyard Book, I had only one thought—I hope theres more. I want to see more of the adventures of Nobody Owens, and there is no higher praise for a book. – Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels
- It takes a graveyard to raise a child. My favorite thing about this book was watching Bod grow up in his fine crumbly graveyard with his dead and living friends. The Graveyard Book is another surprising and terrific book from Neil Gaiman. – Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler
- The Graveyard Book is endlessly inventive, masterfully told and, like Bod himself, too clever to fit into only one place. This is a book for everyone. You will love it to death. – Holly Black, cocreator of The Spiderwick Chronicles
- The Graveyard Book is everything everyone loves about Neil Gaiman, only multiplied many times over, a novel that showcases his effortless feel for narrative, his flawless instincts for suspense, and above all, his dark, almost silky sense of humor. – Joe Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper. Simon & Schuster, 1999.
- Delaney, Joseph. The Revenge of the Witch. (The Last Apprentice, Book One) Greenwillow, 2005.
- Fleischman, Paul. The Half-a-Moon Inn. HarperCollins, 1980.
- Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. HarperCollins, 2002.
- Gaiman, Neil. The Wolves in the Walls. HarperCollins, 2003.
- Higgins, F. E. The Bone Magician. Feiwel and Friends, 2008.
- Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book: The Mowgli Stories. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. Morrow, 1995.
- LaFevers, R. L. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
- Pratchett, Terry. The Wee Free Men. HarperCollins, 2003.
- Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass. Knopf, 1996. (And others in the His Dark Materials series.)
- Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand. Hyperion, 2003.