Plot Summary: Created from an idea author Neil Gaiman had that would create a “Jungle Book in a graveyard”, The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody “Bod” Owens, orphaned as a toddler and raised by the ghosts of a graveyard he wanders into after his family is murdered. His guardian, Silas, is neither dead nor alive and can navigate both worlds in order to assure Nobody’s needs are taken care of.
The problem is, Jack – the man who murdered Nobody’s family – is still at large, and he’s still looking for Bod to finish his business. He’s working for a secret society who has ordered the boy’s death, but as long as Bod stays within the confines of the graveyard, he is safe. As he gets older, though, Nobody wants to venture outside and see more of the world and have human friends.
Critical Evaluation: Like Coraline and Gaiman’s other work for younger readers, The Graveyard Book is a dark fantasy, yet he manages to make the fact that a boy is raised by ghosts and the undead charming. Nobody is a sweet boy who grows up loved for and cared for by the spirits of the graveyard in which he lives, and the supernatural beings – Silas and Bod’s tutor, Miss Lupescu – who are charged with his care. Mr. Gaiman’s descriptions again let the reader’s imagination run wild, with funny and wry descriptions of everyone from the inhabitants of the graveyard to the sinister murderer, Jack Frost.
Reviews: School Library Journal: “Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.”
Booklist (starred review): “There is plenty of darkness, but the novel’s ultimate message is strong and life affirming. Although marketed to the younger YA set, this is a rich story with broad appeal and is highly recommended for teens of all ages.”
Awards: Newbery Medal (2009); Hugo Award for Best Novel (2009); Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (2009); Carnegie Medal (2010).
Reader’s Annotation: A group of ghosts in a British graveyard come together to raise a human boy after his family is are murdered.
Author Information: Neil Gaiman has written dark fantasy since the 1989, when he revived the DC Comics title The Sandman. His website offers his blog and links to message boards, content including essays and short stories, contact information, and a lnk to The Mouse Circus, a Neil Gaiman site for younger readers.
Genre: Dark Fantasy. Subgenre: Award winners, family, paranormal, ghosts.
Booktalking Ideas: Bod is only a baby when his family is murdered and raised by ghosts in the graveyard near his home. It is a pretty untraditional way of looking at the idea of a family – what nontraditional families can you think of? Do you have families that you’ve created outside of your own familiy? What makes a famliy?
Reading Level/Interest Age: 12+
Challenge Issues/Defense: Paranormal characters, murder. Defense: This is a dark fantasy story about a group of ghosts that raise a little boy.
Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?
I have been a Neil Gaiman fan since his Sandman days and loved this book; I wanted to re-read it.