Monday, February 09, 2009
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This book has it all. For those who like horror and suspense it's dark and creepy, and the book begins and ends with an attempted murder. But at the same time it's also got humor and heartwarming family moments, a sweet friendship between a boy and a girl, and it becomes a tearjerker on the final page. It's hard to believe that an author could take such a ridiculous sounding plot and put so much substance to it, but Neil Gaiman did it. Nobody Owens (Bod for short) survives the murder of his entire family when as a toddler he wandered into a nearby graveyard. Now he is being lovingly raised by the dead residents of the graveyard and the mysterious Silas who is neither alive nor dead. Bod is human but has been given some special powers in the graveyard. His early adventures are within the graveyard, but as he gets older he longs to see a little more of the world and even go to school. Eventually he finds out that the man Jack who killed his family is still after him and he will not ever be safe until he confronts this enemy. It's really a story of growing up, moving away from the "family" that raised you, confronting your fears, and moving into the wider world. It will be a popular middle school book and would be a great read-aloud. And of course, it won the Newbery Medal for 2009.