Module 3: The Graveyard Book

51tAOAlaH7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Gaiman, N. (2008). The Graveyard book. New York: HarperCollins Pub. 

Summary: Nobody Owens’ mother, father, and sister are brutally murdered when he is a toddler by a man named Jack. He narrowly escapes by carefully climbing out of his crib and wandering to the graveyard down the street while Jack continues his horrendous acts. At the graveyard he is adopted by a married ghost couple and raised by the rest of the ghosts in the graveyard, and with Silas, a dead but non-ghost inhabitant of the graveyard. As Nobody grows up, he learns the ways of the ghosts, including disappearing, dream walking, and haunting. The old saying “it takes a village” rings true with Nobody, as this village of graveyard citizens must work together to save Nobody from himself and from Jack, who continues his pursuit to kill Nobody.

Impressions: I have been avoiding Gaiman for years, as many of my friends are obsessed with his work and I did not want to jump on that bandwagon. However, one of my favorite adult genres is paranormal fiction so I decided to see how I would enjoy it in juvenile form. Additionally, I read that this book is very macabre and it is to my understanding that children’s lit has been heading in this direction. So I thought, “Let’s check this out.” First, I can understand why my friends read Gaiman. The writing sucks the reader in and though there are a few illustrations throughout, Gaiman’s writing is such that I was able paint a very vivid image of each chapter in my own head – this is what I enjoy in a book- if an author can transport me to that world, he/she is getting a thumbs up. Second, I enjoyed seeing the transition of Nobody through the years and his slow exit from the graveyard and entry into the world. Finally, I just need to finally learn to not knock something something until I have tried it – also, Newbery’s aren’t what they used to be!

Review: “Creepy, unsettling, and somewhat disturbing. That’s how Gaiman begins his multiple-award winning book, which draws the reader into the life and mystery of a young boy named Bod. We learn early in the book that as a toddler, Bod narrowly escaped a gruesome death by crawling down from his crib and out of the house just as the rest of his family was being slaughtered. He toddled his way down the street under the cover of darkness and straight into a graveyard, where he is immediately noticed by a few of the long-term spectral residents.

Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a childless couple who reside in the cemetery, are drawn to the toddler, and after two ghosts appeal to them to keep the boy safe, they take the boy into their care. Silas, a man who lives between the living and the dead, is appointed Bod’s guardian. His wise counsel and knowledge of the real and spiritual worlds helps a maturing Bod figure out who it is who wants him dead and why.

McKean’s wispy and somewhat ethereal illustrations in shades of gray and black are sprinkled throughout the book. The drawings and well constructed story will provoke the imagination and pique the reader’s curiosity about the mysterious alliances and connections within the story. Readers will never look at a graveyard in the same way after reading this cleverly crafted adventure. (MS)”

Anonymous. (2010, May). [Review of the book The Graveyard Book, by N. Gaiman]. Language Arts, 87(5), p. 403.

Library Uses: I can see myself using this book for a book talk or a tween book club.