The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave McKean

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: HarperCollins, 2008

Genre: Fantasy, contemporary fantasy, occult fiction

ISBN: 9780060530921

Intended audience: Children – tweens

Number of pages: 312

Setting: A graveyard in England

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: When Nobody Owens was a toddler, his family was murdered one night by a man named Jack.  Nobody managed to escape to a graveyard where he gained protection from the inhabitants until he becomes old enough to care for himself.  In spite of his unusual home, parents, and guardian, Nobody, or Bod, tries to live a normal life.  It’s a bit tricky, however, because Bod can’t leave the graveyard without putting himself in danger.  Jack still seeks the boy to end his life.

Illustrations: Black and white illustrations are a bit creepy at times, but add to the feel of the story.  I’m especially fond of the drawing of the Lady on the Grey found at the end of the story.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Quick pace – Bod has such interesting adventures, one can’t help but keep turning the pages.

Characterization: The story is told in third person through Bod’s eyes and contains a wide variety of characters – both living, dead, and in-between.

Frame: The darkness of murder, death, and a nocturnal schedule is balanced by the love shown to Bod by those who care for him in the graveyard.

Story line: A wonderful story – both moving and humorous – about learning how to live life to the fullest.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Dead — Fiction.

Supernatural — Fiction.

Cemeteries — Fiction.

Similar authors:

From NoveList:

Robin McKinley

Terry Pratchett

Christopher Moore

Stephen King

Kurt Vonnegut

Charles de Lint

Alan Moore

NoveList recommended reads: If You Like . . . Coraline Contributed By: Fichtelberg, Susan, April 10, 2009.  Recommendations include:

Alma Alexander – Gift of the Unmage

Joseph Bruchac – Skeleton Man

Janet Lee Carey – The Beast of Noor

Cassandra Clare – City of Bones

Frewin Jones – The Faerie Path

Scott Westerfield – The Secret Hour

Personal notes: I loved this book!  I can definitely see why it won the Newberry Award for 2009. [Annotated 5/19/09]

Other (themes, diversity):

Diversity – orphans

Themes – at some point or another, one needs to face one’s fears

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