Friday, July 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday (on a Friday) - "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

**Originally posted on cj's bookshelf on May 13, 2011**

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 2008
Recommended for Ages: 10 and up

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) -

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

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

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

My Review:

 I’ve been told for a long time that I ought to pick up Neil Gaiman because I would enjoy it. Sadly, other things came up for me to read, so poor Neil got put on the backburner. However, when the news came that Neil Gaiman would be writing an episode of the upcoming season of Doctor Who (one of my absolute favorite TV shows), I knew I had to pick up something of his and read it. Then, the Scholastic catalog came to my desk at school and it had “The Graveyard Book” listed for sale, I saw that this had won the Newbery Award, so I ordered it for the library and read the book. And yes, I do enjoy Neil Gaiman.

Nobody “Bod” Owens is a young boy whose family’s was killed when he was a baby. He somehow wanders into a graveyard and is more or less adopted by the ghosts that live in the graveyard. He is raised in the ghosts’ culture and is very at home there. It’s the world of the living that presents the most perils to him. What I found the most interesting is that this is a story where ghosts and ghouls are no threat to the living protagonist. The ghosts are very much Bod’s family and he is the most comfortable there. My favorite is the conversation of whether or not to send Bod to a regular school in the world of the living – it’s just like a conversation that any child’s parents would have over which school to send their child to. I had to remind myself constantly that these people are ghosts and it added a whole new dimension of humor to the story. I also think that a boy like Bod wouldn’t be so afraid of death and I wonder if that is a theme of the story as well – that there is nothing to be scared of in death or dying. Depending on the personality of a child and how their parents feel about it, this could be a good story to read in a time of death.

It took me a while to realize how the format of the book worked – this book is written much like “The Jungle Book” in that each chapter is a short story about Bod and his adventures in the graveyard. The ghosts are so much fun to read – they each have their own personalities that reflect how they were in life and they aren’t the old recycled ghost tropes that have been used in the past. Gaiman writes his characters so vividly – Mrs. Owens is such a lovely mother figure and Mr. Pennyworth is his kindly, if a little doddering, teacher. I love all the little ghostly details in the narrative like the parentheticals that mention the epitaphs on the gravestones of the different characters (Example, Bod’s grammar and composition teacher has the epitaph - “Miss Letitia Borrows, Who Did No harm to No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can You Say Lykewise?”)

I’m really glad I came across this book and I’ll be looking for other works by Neil Gaiman in the future.

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