February 20, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I'd heard a lot about The Graveyard Book even before it won the Newbery since it's by Neil Gaiman, a man who inspires a following like few others.

And then, when it did win, it was heralded as the redeeming book for the Newbery award; it was considered proof that sometimes the Newbery committee doesn't pick obscure, heavy books, but instead ones that appeal to actual real children and that even boys would like (I know. . .a book boys will like. Who knew such a thing even existed?).

Of course, it still has dead parents in it, so it's not like it's strayed ALL that far from one of the time-and-Newbery-honored themes.

Anyway, it obviously meant I had high hopes for this book, expecting it to be fun reading. And when the book started out with a murderer named Jack creeping through a dark house, having murdered the parents and a sister and now ready to off the little baby boy, I assumed I was right.

But then it kind of slowed down for me. I kept thinking, "Hmm, what a very odd choice."

I continued to hear comparisons to the Jungle Book - a series of semi-related stories, rather than one long storyline - and this didn't thrill me at all. I don't really like that kind of thing - give me a novel over a short story every single day of the week (actually every single day of my life).

Fortunately, though, it really picked up in the second half and wow, by the end, I just wanted to weep a little, it was so lovely and poignant and also sweet and funny. The story comes together more tightly and cleverly than I'd expected, and I absolutely fell in love with Bod, the escaped baby boy who grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts and the mysterious non-ghost/non-human Silas.

It really was an excellent Newbery choice - you can't ask for much more in a book than this one offers.

Neil Gaiman, you came through.

10 comments:

  1. You had me going - so was not going to read this book, now I guess I will have to!

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  2. I'm requesting it from the library right this minute. I get most of my good recommendations from you. Thank you!

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  3. I'm so glad you liked it, because I've got it right by my bed at home--I just haven't had time to crack it open yet. This weekend, for sure!

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  4. So it has dead parents, but does it have poverty?? Because if not, it cannot be a True Newbery.

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  5. Oh good, I'm still waiting for my copy to come in at the library

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  6. While I realize this is a Newbery and probably can't be too scary, is it too scary for me? I love a good murder story like anyone else, but when it involves children at all I get a little too into it. And hey! My boy loves books! :)

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  7. I'm so glad you liked it! I just got it from the library and was going to start reading this weekend

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  8. I love short stories. They were all I read for awhile. I've read quite a bit of Gaiman so I'm sure I'll get around to this sooner or later.

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  9. I haven't blogged about it yet, but I LOVED this book. Finished it and then handed it straight to my 11-year-old who also loved it. I was a little bit wary at the beginning, what with the knife and the dead family---but it ended up being the perfect amount of scary. I think it was a great choice for the Newberry! Go Neil!

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  10. Oh, doesn't he just always? Well, actually not really, but most of the time I adore him. Also, thanks for commenting on my blog! I guess I'm not just writing to my mom and my sister anymore, I'd better start classing up the joint!

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