When first reading Neil Gaiman s wonderfully dark but playful fantasy The Graveyard Book, I instantly discovered that I liked it a lot When I realized that The Graveyard Book was also Rudyard Kipling s The Jungle Book, but updated to be gothic and macabre, with a boy not raised by wolves but ghosts, I loved it Winner of the Hugo Award in 2009, this is a rival to Gaiman s masterpiece American Gods This is vintage Gaiman at his masterfully fantastic best, an heir to the Grandmaster throne of Ray Bradbury but a classic in its own right. I ve noticed that there s been an increased interest in the macabre in children s literature lately Sometimes when I ve had a glass or two of wine and I m in a contemplative mood I try weaving together a postulation that ties the current love of violent movies into this rise in children s literary darkness Is the violence of the world today trickling down into our entertainment Hogwash and poppycock and other words of scoff and denial, says sober I But I ve certainly seen a distinct rise in the Gothic and otherworldly over the last few years, and one wonders if it s because kids want of that kind of stuff or publishers are merely getting less squeamish All that aside, generally I ll read a May Bird book or an Everlost title and they ll be fun examinations of the hereafter, but not the kind of things that touch my heart Great writing doesn t have to transcend its genre It just has to be emotionally honest with the reader And The Graveyard Book is one of the most emotionally honest books I ve yet to have read this year Smart and focused, touching and wry, it takes the story of a boy raised by ghosts and extends it beyond the restrictive borders of the setting Great stuff.It starts with three murders There were supposed to be four The man Jack was one of the best, maybe THE best, and how hard is it to kill a toddler anyway But on that particular night the little boy went for a midnight toddle out the front door while the murderer was busy and straight into the nearby graveyard Saved and protected by the denizens of that particular abode the ghosts and the far corporeal if mysterious Silas , the little boy is called Bod, short for Nobody because no one knows his name As he grows older, Bod learns the secrets of the graveyard, though he has to be careful The man or is it men who killed his family could come back for him Best to stay quiet and out of sight Yet as Bod grows older it becomes clear that hiding may not be the best way to confront his enemies And what s , Bod must come to grips with what it means to grow up Can I level with you You know Coraline Mr Gaiman s previous foray into middle grade children s literature Come close now, I don t want to speak too loudly Uh I didn t much care for it WAIT Come back, come back, I didn t mean it Well, maybe I did a tad It was a nice book A sufficient story But it was very much new category alert an adult author to children s author first timer title Gaiman appeared to be finding his sealegs with Coraline He took the old Alice in Wonderland trope which adult authors naturally gravitate to on their first tries see Un Lun Dun, Summerland, The King in the Window, etc Throw in some rats, bees, and buttons, and voila Instant success But Coraline for all its readability and charm didn t get me here thumps chest I didn t feel emotionally close to the material Now why it should be that I d feel closer emotionally to a book filled with a plethora of ghosts, ghouls, night gaunts, and Hounds of God, I can only chalk up to The Graveyard Book s strong vision My husband likes to say that the whole reason Buffy the Vampire Slayer worked as a television show was that it was a natural metaphor for the high school and eventually college experience Likewise, The Graveyard Book has this strong,strange, wonderful metaphor about kids growing up, learning about the wider world, and exploring beyond the safe boundaries of their homes There s so much you can read into this book I mean, aren t all adults just ghosts to kids anyway Those funny talking people whose time has passed but that may provide some shelter and wisdom against the wider, crueler world Plus Mr Gaiman also includes characters in Bod s world that kids will wish they had in their own Silas, a man who may be a vampire though the word is never said is every child s fantasy A mysterious magical guardian friend who will tell you the truth when your parents will not One thing I particularly liked about the book was the fact that Bod makes quite a few careless or thoughtless mistakes and yet you don t feel particularly inclined to throttle him because of them Too often in a work of fiction a person isn t properly put into the head of their protagonist So when that character walks off and does something stupid there s the sense sometimes faint, sometimes not that they deserved it and you re not going to stick around and read about somebody that dumb, are you But even when Bod is at his most intolerable, his most childishly selfish and single minded, you can understand and sympathize with him Bod is no brat, a fact that implies right there that he is someone worth rooting for We see our own young selves in Bod, and we root for him as a result And as Bod reaches each stage in his growth, he encounters experiences and personalities that help him to reach maturity That s a lot to put on the plate of a l il ole fantasy novel, particularly one that s appropriate for younger kids And it is appropriate too Don t let the fact that the first sentence in the book There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife put you off The murder of Bod s family is swift, immediate, and off screen What remains is just a great fantasy novel that has the potential to appeal to both boy and girl readers Kid wants a ghost story Check Kid wants a fantasy novel set in another world appropriate for Harry Potter fans Check Kid wants a good book That s my favorite request When the eleven year old comes up to my desk and begs for a good book I can just show them the cover and the title of this puppy and feel zero guilt when their little eyes light up A good book it is I guess that if I have any objections at all to the title it has something to do with the villains They re a bit sketchy, which I suppose is the point, but we live in an era where children s fantasy novels spend oodles of time defining their antagonists motivations and histories Gaiman s interested in his hero, which is natural, but the villains raison d tre is just a bit too vague for the average reader Honestly, if it weren t for the fact that Bod s family is slaughtered at the start of this tale you wouldn t necessarily know whether or not to believe that these people are as nasty as we ve been told That said the book s a peach I once heard someone postulate that maybe Neil Gaiman wrote it just so that he could play with the sentence It takes a graveyard to raise a child Unlikely Fun, but unlikely I mean, he does make a casual allusion that isn t far off from that phrase, but he never goes whole hog This book doesn t feel like it was written to back up a joke It feels like a book written by a parent with children growing up and moving out It s a title that tips its hat to kids making their way in the world, their pasts behind them, their futures unknown This is not yet another silly little fantasy novel, but something with weight and depth The fact that it just happens to be loads of fun to boot is simply a nice bonus Highly recommended.Ages 10 and up. Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place he s the only living resident of a graveyard Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians time as well as their timely ghostly teachings like the ability to Fade Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead And then there are things like ghouls that aren t really one thing or the other This chilling tale is Neil Gaiman s first full length novel for middle grade readers since the internationally bestselling and universally acclaimed Coraline Like Coraline, this book is sure to enchant and surprise young readers as well as Neil Gaiman s legion of adult fans. It takes a graveyard to raise a childNobody Owens yes, that s his name becomes orphaned at an early age when an unknown Jack murders his entire family.What s surprising is that Nobody doesn t even notice the kid is too excited that the house door is open and toddles off for adventure He ends up at the local graveyard The local ghosts see Jack s intentions and decide to grant Nobody the Protection of the Graveyard A childless ghost couple adopts the toddler and a vampire becomes his guardian Together, the graveyard and its inhabitants, seek to raise the living boy through love, moral guidance and, of course, the finest education the dead could offer Name the different kinds of people, said Miss Lupescu Now Bod thought for a moment The living, he said Er The dead He stopped Then, Cats This book spans Nobody s entire childhood with each chapter as a vignette, covering the biggest adventure that happened that year.One year he s meeting new human friends, the next going on adventures with a hanged witch or running from very, very hungry ghouls Since there is only a snippet of each year s adventure, I became frustrated when the adventure was over but not wrapped up i.e the Macabray the dance of the living and the dead, was not ever touched on again but it was by far one of the most curious happenings in that little graveyard Some of the interesting graveyard happenings i.e Silas the vampire and Miss Lupesco s adventures were only spoken of in the vaguest of terms Nobody Owens is a child for most of the book and this is told from his perspectiveso it makes sense that he would not know about the full adventure Yet as the reader, I still wanted to know what happened Overall, this is definitely one my favorite Gaiman novels Definitely check it out Audiobook Comments Narrated by the author CHECK Neil Gaiman has an absolutely wonderful reading voice This audiobook has a some musical accompaniment Notably during the Macabray dance which made listening to it extremely memorable YouTube Blog Instagram Twitter Snapchat miranda.reads Happy Reading I just don t think Neil Gaiman can write something I won t enjoy His worlds are so rich and visceral, his characters so unique and loveable I loved this story, loved Bod with all my heart, and was proud of him as he grew up I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, and it was top notch Can t wait for my next It takes a graveyard to raise a child This is a summary of this magical, sweet and imaginative story for children, which in a good tradition of the Brothers Grimm started with a triple homicide There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife Neil Gaiman does not waste time with unicorns and princesses and butterflies which are often considered acceptable for children He kicks off his book with the brutal murders of a child s entire family, written in a chilling tone that made me quickly turn all the lights on in my bedroom Nobody Owens named so because he looks like nobody but himself , or simply Bod, is the sole survivor of the aforementioned triple homicide, who is, in The Jungle Book style, promptly adopted by a sweet ghost couple in the graveyard inhabited by an afterlife community He even gets a vampire as his guardian and mentor There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas Given the Privilege of the Graveyard and taught how to Fade into the background, Bod spends his entire childhood playing among graves, learning his letters from the gravestones, running into trouble with some ghouls, being tutored by a werewolf with a taste for Eastern European food, dancing with Death, and making friends with the ghost of a young witch burned at stake He does crave human company though, and in addition to becoming an imaginary friend of a little girl also does a brief stint as a non so ordinary student at a school All this while the evil that tried to murder him in the first place is still searching for him.Neil Gaiman has a real knack for the imaginative combination of sweet and creepy elements together with the bittersweet ending, creating a unique and unforgettable story which appeals both to children and adults Told via a succession of interludes from Bod s unusual life, the story could have been overly sugary or overly morbid, but Gaiman easily avoids either extreme This story has just the right mix of sweetness, whimsy, sadness, suspense, and adventures to keep the reader captivated throughout Bod said, I want to see life I want to hold it in my hands I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island I want to play football with people I want, he said, and then he paused and he thought I want everything Seeing the world depicted through the eyes of a quiet graveyard raised but very human boy colors the story with almost Bradbury esque feeling of nostalgia for the fleeting magic of childhood We see the inevitable process of growing up, finding one s self, and letting go of the comforts of childhood home written poignantly and sweetly, and yet without overkill You re alive, Bod That means you have infinite potential You can do anything, make anything, dream anything If you can change the world, the world will change Potential Once you re dead, it s gone Over You ve made what you ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name You may be buried here, you may even walk But that potential is finished Bod is a great character for a children s story He is smart and resourceful, quiet and observant, loyal and brave, somewhat mischievous, and ultimately very life like His demeanor reminds me of my awesome younger brother, actually Watching him grow up from a sweet child into what seems to be an actual good adult is a pleasure You re brave You are the bravest person I know, and you are my friend I don t care if you are imaginary This story, even though wonderfully complete, still reads almost like a tease at times Gaiman gives us a delightful and lyrical glimpse into the world which I would love to get to know better He creates such rich captivating characters that even after the book is over I am left longing for I would love to read a whole another book dedicated to Silas or Miss Lupescu or Lizzy the witch Mr Gaiman, if you ever run out of other book ideas just sayin 5 stars and a well earned spot on my for my future hypothetical daughter reading shelf There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion But between now and then, there was Life and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open For having such a sinister beginning and heavy life and death themes it s the Jungle Book set in a graveyard , this book is a real joy to read The graveyard magic is fantastic and grows in fun ways throughout the story, and the ghosts and creatures that inhabit this world make for a delightful cast of characters I loved a ton of things as I read, but one that especially stuck out to me was how Bod grows older but the ghosts remain their same ages So with each time jump, he interacts very differently with the same ghosts.And as always from Gaiman, all the pieces fit perfectly together by the end It s a masterpiece of storytelling, really. When a family is murdered by a mysterious killer, one of the intended victims is missing, a young, diapered boy, who had wandered off just before the crime took place But the killer needed to complete the job Fortunately for the boy, he was taken in by the late residents of a nearby graveyard And when the spirit of his newly deceased mother asks for their help, the residents agree to raise her son He is given to the care of the Owens couple and named Nobody, Bod for short, as he looks like nobody but himself Neil Gaiman from The Verge In this Newbery Medal, Carnegie Medal and Hugo Award winning novel, it takes a graveyard to raise an actual corporate being, and there are many who chip in Perhaps most important is Silas, resident of the worlds of the dead and the living As Bod grows there are many interesting sorts who cross his path, a young witch lacking a gravestone, an unscrupulous dealer in antiques, a snake like protector of a long dead master, and an array of teachers And there must, of course, be a girl, Scarlett by name, a living girl Bod does venture out into the unprotected world beyond the graveyard gates, not always with permission He wants to go to school like other kids, and does, with mixed results He wants to buy a headstone for a friend who lacks one He wants to spend time with Scarlett As he enters his teen years, he determines to find the person who had killed his family.This is not your usual coming of age story Bod is indeed a likeable kid, good hearted, innocent, easy to care about One of Gaiman s inspirations for this story was Kipling s The Jungle Book, with Bod as Mowgli and the graveyard residents substituting, sometimes generically, for their animal counterparts in the earlier work There is a section equivalent to Mowgli having been kidnapped by monkeys, a werewolf might be Akela Bod s nemesis is the killer Jack, the Shere Khan of this tale Each chapter jumps in time, and we see Bod take on new challenges as he ages Of course, his home being a graveyard, the challenges he faces are not pedestrian And finally, he faces an adult, mortal test that will define whether he actually gets to come of age or not There is so much in The Graveyard Book that is just flat out charming that you will find, as I did, that your lips keep curling up at the corners From Bod trying to find properly fitting clothing, to struggling to learn some of the unusual skills the locals have mastered, to coping with some of the lesser baddies who make life difficult for those around them, Bod will gain your allegiance and your affection The baddie, Jack, is a purely dark sort No gray areas there And that makes the central conflict one of pretty much pure good, against completely pure evil There are plenty of moments of real danger for Bod and that keeps tension high But there are nuances to other characters that add color and texture to what might otherwise have become a flat gray panel These additions add heft to the story, and make one wonder larger thoughts about the limits of change, of redemption This one is easy to recommend, to kids of all ages, but don t wait too long You never know when it might be you know too late PS Disney has acquired the film rights for this and it is likely that it will emerge, someday, with a look similar to that of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter, FB and TumblrThe official website for the bookNeil Gaiman reads the entire bookThis Literary Wiki page seems rather slightI also reviewed Gaiman s Stardust, briefly, a few back The Ocean at the End of the Lane in August 2013 Trigger Warning in March 2015 The View From the Cheap Seats in June 2016 A 83% Very Good Notes A bit too short, and the illustrations don t really work Still, it s a fun, light and whimsical take on its macabre milieu. I read this to Celyn but the 5 are from both of us I think I probably enjoyed it than she did in fact.It s a fine book I can see why it s done so well The story is well structured, the brutal opening providing an orphan, a mystery, and an ongoing threat Thereafter the book slowly cycles back around to its beginning and in the mean time raises our young Bod, equipping him with the skills to deal with his problem.Bod s life in the graveyard is very interesting, with him learning various bits of magic and magical lore from the dead With hundreds of ghosts spanning several thousand years there s all manner of opportunity for interest and I enjoyed Bod s interactions with them.We watch Bod grow up, be educated, and make ventures into the living world The whole thing crept up on me I was gently entertained throughout but by the end I found myself really caring about the story.The end was really quite emotional in that Toy Story III sort of leaving the nest way that punches parents in the gut I think Celyn got a bit irritated as I kept pausing to gather myself to read the next line.Anyway A curious and highly entertaining book thick with inventiveness and written with deceptive skill Join my 3 emails a year newsletter prizes..