Review Blog

Jan 08 2010

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Illustrated by Chris Riddell. Bloomsbury, 2009. ISBN 9780747594802.
(Ages 11- 15 years) This book is highly recommended but probably not for the faint-hearted. What an unexpected, exciting and intriguing read. The beginning of the story is possibly the creepiest I have read! A toddler narrowly escapes the murderous intent of a stranger to the house and finds himself in the safe hands of a community of ghosts in the town's graveyard. Adopted by these memorable residents, Bod (short for Nobody) grows up in the graveyard, learning about life and death, yet struggling to discover facts about his family and background. His adventures are exciting and scary, but, though it is implied, the violence is not directly shown. Bod's world is fantastical but recognisable too - he is just like any other child finding his way in the world. There is humour in the graveyard - inscriptions on the grave stones are amazing - and there is wisdom. Enhanced by Riddell's wonderful illustrations, Gaiman's language is often striking. Consider the description on page 95: 'In the twilight of the graveyard there was a silent implosion, a flutter of velvet darkness, and Silas was gone.' Silas is Bod's protector and teacher, a mentor, and one of the most memorable of players in this great adventure.
The Graveyard Book won the 2009 Newbery Award.
Julie Wells

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