The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2008.
Newbery Award 2009

To start with I was not excited about reading this book. The related short story from M is for Magic was not one of my favorites from the book. But I read the flap description recently and thought I'd give it a try. After about 100 pages, I still was not sure I wanted to continue. Then, everything changed.

You wouldn't believe the stuff that happens in the graveyard. Bod (short for Nobody) gets into a heap of trouble, pushing his limits, as any child would, as he grows to adulthood. I want to know more about Bod's mysterious governess Miss Lupescu, and Silas is the ultimate of guardians, despite the barest glimpses into his background.

I was not expecting the story to be a mystery, but it turns into one and completely captivates. The setting is contemporary but feels like historical fiction due to Bod's isolated, graveyard existence. The ghosts are 18th century or earlier. The Dance Macabre with the death personification is medieval; I so enjoyed this scene.

Bod learns from many of the graveyard's inhabitants, but as he ages he realizes that the graveyard is limited and he is missing out on the world. He begs to attend a real school, for the living. The description of his school expereince reminds me of Susan Sto Helit from Terry Pratchett's Soul Music of Discworld fame. He is at school to learn but really not part of the school. It is during this period when Bod is half grown that I wondered if he might grow to be like Silas, not alive and not dead. It is also when the book becomes more complex, with Bod visiting the town, drawing attention to himself, meeting a friend from childhood, plus the Dance imagery.

Neil Gaiman is an excellent wordsmith. His writing has an elegance even when the reading level is not particularly high. His stories are quirky, and he blends unusual thoughts and images effortlessly.

related-dead, supernatural, cemeteries, mysteries, high interest, orphans
RL=6th and up

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