Friday, June 11, 2010

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Have you ever been to a graveyard and wonder what goes on after dark when the gates are locked for the night? Let me introduce you to Nobody Owens. Nobody has lived in the graveyard since he was a toddler. He followed his instincts one night when his family was murdered and was adopted by the ghosts in the graveyard. Bod Owens occupies the sphere between the living and the dead. He can communicate with both the living and the dead and belongs to both worlds.

This book is a scary adventure story. It reminded me of Harry Potter and the Jungle Book. I definitely think that Gaiman plans to write a sequel and a movie of the book is in the works. This book will appeal to middle and high school students. I think it will be too scary for the kids in upper elementary grades. The murders take place at the beginning of the book, but there are also lots of ghosts, goblins, witches and Jack. Jack is still trying to find Nobody and kill him throughout the book. It is an exciting, eclectic cast of characters and I loved thinking about what takes place in real graveyards at night that our human minds don't see.

I am totally fascinated by cemeteries and curious about all the people who rest there. When I was a little girl my aunt Sherry lived across the street from a graveyard and it became my playground whenever I came to visit. Frequently we would go for walks there or I would be sent with a cloth, a bucket and garden shears to clean off long forgotten graves. I grew up with a fascination not a fear of cemeteries. Maybe that is one of the reasons I became a history teacher, to learn about all those dead people. What an epiphany!

The Graveyard Book won the Newberry Award in 2009. It is very deserving of the award. The artwork is dark and lovely and fits the story perfectly. This is the second book I have read by Gaiman, the first was Coraline. Coraline was also an entertaining read but this book is far more superior in my mind. I think I need to read one of Gaiman's adult books. Hmmm, which one should I pick?


  1. I was lucky enough to hear Neil Gaiman at an event, read a chapter from this book. Great book!!!! I also like cemeteries -- one of my hobbies is photographing unusual gravestones.

    Nice review of this book!

  2. I've heard great things about this books and must put in on my TBR list. Thanks for the great review.

    Also, if you like the setting of the graveyard you should look into "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger. It's one of my favorite books and the cemetery plays a central part in the story.

  3. I loved THE GRAVEYARD BOOK also. As far as his adult books, I love STARDUST best.

  4. I loved this book and now my boys are all reading it! So far their opinions have all been positive.

    I'm afraid I only had one trial with Gaiman's adult books (American Gods) and I really didn't like it. I did, however, love Stardust, which sort of borders adult and YA.

  5. I am so glad you enjoyed The Graveyard Book. It is one of Gaiman's best and is a fantastic book. If you ever get a chance to listen to the audio version, with Gaiman reading, take it--it is a wonderful experience.

    As for adult novels, Neverwhere is my favorite so I would recommend it. Stardust is also great. American Gods is a really good novel if you like things that tie into mythology and folklore, but it is dark and has some very adult material in it.