The Graveyard Book

I believe that you can’t learn to write good books without reading good books. So, I’ve been working my way through the Newberry award list. Recently I read the 2009 Newberry winner, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and it was the highlight of my summer reading.

The story starts with a toddler escaping from his crib and wandering off to the nearby graveyard. While he is gone, a man breaks into his home and murders his family. The murder wanted to kill the little boy too but couldn’t find him. His mother’s recently departed spirit begs the graveyard ghosts to protect her son and they agree to hide him from the killer.

One ghostly couple, the Owens, adopt the little living boy and raise him as their own. Because they don’t know his name, the ghosts call him Nobody Owens, “Bod” for short. Bod must stay in the graveyard because the killer is still looking for him. But why? When he gets older, Bod wants to know and he ventures out among the living to search for answers. What he finds among the living is scarier than anything in the graveyard.

The compelling mystery plus Bod’s unusual childhood makes this one of most interesting books I’ve read in a while. Gaiman makes the ghosts seem human and the humans seem like monsters. Bod is a humble and caring soul, but also courageous and daring. He makes you want to jump in the book and help him even though he can handle things very well on his own.

This Newberry winner was definitely a winner for me. I highly recommend it to readers 8 and up.

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