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The Graveyard Book Paperback – September 28, 2010
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In The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman has created a charming allegory of childhood. Although the book opens with a scary scene--a family is stabbed to death by "a man named Jack” --the story quickly moves into more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers. A pallid, nocturnal guardian named Silas ensures that Bod receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and acquires the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond. (ages 10 and up) -–Heidi Broadhead --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Somewhere in contemporary Britain, "the man Jack" uses his razor-sharp knife to murder a family, but the youngest, a toddler, slips away. The boy ends up in a graveyard, where the ghostly inhabitants adopt him to keep him safe. Nobody Owens, so named because he "looks like nobody but himself," grows up among a multigenerational cast of characters from different historical periods that includes matronly Mistress Owens; ancient Roman Caius Pompeius; an opinionated young witch; a melodramatic hack poet; and Bod's beloved mentor and guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead and has secrets of his own. As he grows up, Bod has a series of adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, and the threat of the man Jack who continues to hunt for him is ever present. Bod's love for his graveyard family and vice versa provide the emotional center, amid suspense, spot-on humor, and delightful scene-setting. The child Bod's behavior is occasionally too precocious to be believed, and a series of puns on the name Jack render the villain a bit less frightening than he should be, though only momentarily. Aside from these small flaws, however, Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Reading other reviews, I see that many people write a summary of what the book is about. When I read reviews, I look for why people like one book over another. Much like picking out the write brand of blender, I'd rather know how reading a good story made someone feel over the plot summary. That's what reading the inside cover of a book or Amazon's little blurb is for.
First, I collect books that I would want my child to read one day and meanwhile will recommend to my tutoring students. I recommend books with a sense of adventure, compassion and and well defined relationships. To me, a great story is all about the relationships. Second, I collect books I will read over and over again until I can no longer get anything new or I can't feel the great emotion that comes from the reading journey. Lastly, I collect books from authors who consistently tell a fantastic story and appeal to my sometimes dark sense of humor.
All that said, I love Neil Gaiman. His sense of how relationships work and the stakes he raises for his characters are always thrilling and always placed in the realm just outside of reality. Nobody Owens is a beautiful simple character whose experiences create relationships for the reader to everyone he encounters in his life at the boundary between living and death. We begin with such high suspense and then while we are still gripping the ride's safety bars we allow the journey into life in the cemetery. Enjoy watching Bod grow into adulthood and you will happily accept the open ended ending.