June 29, 2009

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

Genre: Children's
Rating: 4 of 5

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is the winner of the Newbery Medal Award for 2009. It is a children's book, but I would say don't let your younger children read it. I would say no younger than 10 or 11. The reason for this is it is a little bit darker. It starts out with an assassin named Jack who is sent to murder an entire family, except the baby boy escapes death by walking out of his house and into a graveyard. The ghosts of the family beg the graveyard ghosts to protect him. So the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Owens claim his as their son. Since they don't know his name, they call him Nobody Owens. Silas becomes his guardian, as he is more living than dead. Bod, as he is called, is given the Freedom of the Graveyard. It gives him the power to see in the dark, walk through things, and even become invisible while he is in the graveyard. Of course, he can also see and talk to all the inhabitants of the Graveyard.

Bod grows up in the graveyard, but he has very little contact with anyone but ghosts. He wants to have living friends and go to school. Many things he wants to do, but can't because the man Jack is still out there trying to find him. You might think there is not much to do in a graveyard, but believe me, Bod still manages to get into plenty of trouble.

I listened to the audio version of this book. I liked it well enough. In the beginning I thought the plot was rather odd, but soon things started getting more interesting. Neil Gaiman did the narration, and I think it added a lot. He did such a wonderful job, and it made the book better for me. Many times I shy away from audio books, because I can't stand the narration. However, I would highly recommend the audio version on this one. I did happen to see the illustrations as well. To me they were different than most illustrations. Something about them stuck out to me in a good way. However, I didn't much care for the facial features. Everyone looked very skeletal. I decided it must have been in theme with the graveyard setting.

Since this book has some darker themes it made me think about how it might affect a younger child. Do you think assassins and death themes are too scary for children around ages 8-10? Were there any books that scared you when you were younger? I can't think of any I was particularly frightened of at that age, but then I mostly read books like The Babysitter's Club.


Trin said...

I remember being around 9 or 10 and I have a ghost stories book I would go in my closet, close the door and read it with a flashlight. I was never really scared of ghosts or things like that.
On the other hand, I just read a book about a murder that gave me nightmares for three days. So I believe that the fantasy parts of The Graveyard Book are tolerable but the assassin aspect could be a bit intense.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I suppose it depends on the child. I probably would have had nightmares for weeks if I'd read it very young, but some of my nephews would devour it.

Emily said...

Well, Harry Potter had a very serious assassin aspect to it as well, but it seems to be appropriate for younger children. I guess since the book wasn't gruesome I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I'm more apt not to recommend a book to a younger audience due to drug use, language, or sex.

heidenkind said...

I have this book in my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Books have never really scared me too much, to be honest.

Haiku Amy said...

Emily - Good point. I had thought of Harry Potter as a comparison, but having read these books as an adult, it is hard to imagine how a younger child would view it.

Melissa - Yeah, I definitely agree everyone handles books differently. I was pretty picky as a child when it came to books. I even wonder if I would have given The Graveyard Book a chance based on the title and cover when I was younger.

Trin - Ooh, reading ghost stories in a dark closet?? You must like the thrill aspect.

Tasha - I hope you like it.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I loved all the Babysitter Club books!! Yeah, this one was dark. I couldn't believe how it opened with that big knife. I did not like the illustrations at all!