“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” This forbidding first line begins one of Neil Gaiman’s most adored juvenile works, The Graveyard Book. Darkly humorous and filled with quirky characters, this Newberry Medal winner is a pleasure to read. Though it’s promoted as a book for children 10 and up, Gaiman’s witty writing and the moving storyline make it an appealing book for readers of any age. I first read this book a couple of years ago and since then it has become one of my all-time favorites!
The Graveyard Book begins with the murder of a seemingly normal family, stabbed to death by “a man named Jack”. The only surviving family member is an 18 month-old baby who escapes his crib and the house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard.
The graveyard’s ghostly residents quickly recognize that the baby is orphaned. They adopt him, naming him Nobody Owens, so named because he “looks like nobody but himself”. Under the care of this motley crew and the guardianship of the mysterious Silas, “Bod” as he is affectionately nicknamed, is raised among the dead, protecting him from “the man Jack”, the killer who still relentlessly searches for the child who got away.
Taking cues from Kipling’s, The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how young Bod, navigates among the headstones, asking lots of questions and picking up the tricks of the trade of both the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid his family of ghosts, witches, werewolves, and the occasional human.
Can a boy raised by ghosts, face the wonders and terrors of living in the worlds of both the living and the dead?
To find out what happens, check out this page-turning work of juvenile fantasy fiction and many more like it at the Sioux City Public Library.