Illustrated by Dave McKean
Bloomsbury, hardback, 309 p.
Winner of the Newbery Medal, 2009
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a perfectly normal boy. Well, he would be perfectly normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead.I’m not as avid a Neil Gaiman fan as some other bloggers, but I’d read so many rave reviews of this book that I’d really been looking forward to reading it. Dewey even considered it her favourite of the several Neil Gaiman books that she’d read. Well, thanks to the Read-a-thon I finally sat down with it and was able to get lost in it for a few hours.
There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and so much more.
But it is in the land of the living that read danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
‘For good or for evil – and I firmly believe that it is for good – Mrs Owens and her husband have taken this child under their protection. It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will,’ said Silas, ‘take a graveyard.’On the surface it’s the fantastical story of a boy growing up in a graveyard where he interacts with the various resident ghosts, but it’s so much more than that. Life in the graveyard is not without adventures and Bod learns some important lessons along the way. Ultimately it’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that left me with tears in my eyes at the end.
My main complaint is, I have to admit, that I didn’t love the illustrations by Dave McKean. Usually I’m always thrilled when a book has illustrations and wish that more books had them, and I’ve enjoyed his illustrations in a couple other collaborations with Neil Gaiman that I’ve read, but for some reason these ones just didn’t excite me. Art is entirely subjective though and regardless, the story itself shines.
I haven’t read very many Newbery Medal winning books, so I can’t compare it to previous winners, but I certainly think this one is deserving of the recognition. Neil Gaiman truly is a fantastic storyteller.
Watch Neil reading 'The Graveyard Book'
Neil Gaiman's blog
First sentence: There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
My Rating: 4/5
(#22 for 2009, Once Upon a Time III Challenge, Book Awards II Challenge, Dewey's Books Reading Challenge, Herding Cats II Challenge)
Also reviewed at:
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
things mean a lot
Tip of the Iceberg
where troubles melt like lemon drops
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Stainless Steel Droppings
Nothing of Importance
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Books of Mee
a book a week
Maw Books Blog
...and no doubt plenty more.
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