Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Maybe it says something about my level of maturity, but I really like children's books and young adult books, quite often more than a lot of the adult novels out there that seem to be trying too hard to be adult. The Graveyard Book is targeted to 9-12 year olds but anyone could enjoy a nice little book like this. Some reviewers put the age as 11 and up. I think that some 9 year olds would like it if they aren't too squeamish. It does start with murder and was written by the author of Coraline. I didn't read the book of Coraline but I saw the movie and thought that it was rather creepy.
As I said, the book starts with murder, in fact the first sentence is: "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." The villain kills 3 members of a family but the author gives just the bare minimum of information necessary to know what has happened. The 4th member of the family, a toddler known for getting out of his crib, manages to escape down the street and into a graveyard. The villain, who has been told he must eliminate all members of the family, follows but is scared away by the inhabitants of the graveyard, the ghosts who come out at night and who decide to adopt the toddler as their own. They name him Nobody Owens, Bod for short. The ghosts teach him and care for him until he is old enough to go out on his own but the danger still lurks out in the world. For reasons that I never fully understood, the entire family including Bod needed to be killed.
What I really like about this book were all the quirky characters found in the graveyard and how much they cared for little Bod. I also liked watching Bod grow up and learn about the world around him, a world much different than most of us experience. Apparently, the book is loosely based on The Jungle Book, with a graveyard full of ghosts instead of a jungle full of animals. Actually, I was reminded of the Series of Unfortunate Events books where creepy characters and bad experiences happened to the children in the book but they remained resilient. I would rate this PG with a caution for parents. Some 9 and 10 year olds might find it a little too creepy and spooky.

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