Monday, December 2, 2013

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman

In The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman has created a charming allegory of childhood. Although the book opens with a scary scene--a family is stabbed to death by "a man named Jack” --the story quickly moves into more child-friendly storytelling. The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers. A pallid, nocturnal guardian named Silas ensures that Bod receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and acquires the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond.

This was a wonderful book and a very fun read.  Even though it was a children's book there was a lot for adults to love in The Graveyard Book. 
I loved Bod's relationship with the citizens of the graveyard.  I was so interested in his schooling with the various ghosts.  Each one had something extra to teach Bod based on their life experiences and the history of their time.  It was very entertaining.
It was very dark in certain parts, especially the beginning.  I love dark, but it's probably not something to read to very young children  :).  Unless they tend to like that kind of thing.

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