When I heard that Gaiman was releasing another book I was very excited and I am happy to say that this book met all of my expectations. Gaiman is such an excellent storyteller.
This book expands on one of the short stories in "M is for Magic" by Neil Gaiman. In that story we meet Bod, a boy who lives in a graveyard. This book tells about how Bod got there and of the adventures he had there. You learn more about the mysterious Jack too! In fact I believe chapter 4 or 5 of The Graveyard Book, is actually an exact reprint of this story.
The story starts with a creepy killer named Jack who kills Bod's whole family (trust me no spoilers here, this happens in the first page); Bod as a small, curious toddler escapes to the graveyard. The book is interesting in that for the first two-thirds of the book each chapter is more of a short-story about Nobody Owens (Bod). Initially there is a large time span between each chapter and in each chapter (short-story) we learn about one of Bod's adventures in the Graveyard. As you get towards the end of the book things happen closer together and the chapters turn into more of what you would consider a standard chapter.
It is fascinating to hear about a boy who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts. Bod develops into and strong and very interesting character, that you can't help but love. Silas, the guardian of the graveyard, is also fascinating. Gaiman, as usual, adds an ironic touch to the story by showing how similar Bod's issues when growing up are with any other childs.
As for being a kids' book; for the most part the book would be okay to read to a young child. The first chapter, where Jack murders Bod's family, I found the be extremly creepy; so I would shy away at reading this chapter to a young child. Many of the other chapters are also scary. If a child under 10 was going to read this book, I would say a parent should read through it first and then you can read it together and skip any inappropriate parts. This book, naturally, deals a ton with death and what it means to be dead.
I absolutely loved this book. I thought the age level was a bit higher than Gaiman's Coraline. People who complain about Gaiman being too morbid, haven't read enough Gaiman. He is like the young adult, fairy tale version of Stepan King...many of his stories are crafted to make you think and feel slightly uncomfortable. This was absolutely a wonderfully crafted story, it's one I am keeping to add to my book collection.
I snagged this one after it was recommended to me by a friend and the next day it won the Newberry award. At that point I decided, 'I need to read this.' One mildly frustrating call to Books-a-Million later (We don't have it and can't get it. No, I don't know why (and can't be arsed to ask up the food chain why). I don't care if the website has it ... we have one in stock.)
Anyway, it was fun. It's a pretty light hearted fantasy piece and really makes me itch to re-read The Jungle Book. Its about Nobody Owens, the only survivor of his family and finds sanctuary in a local graveyard that's a nature reserve. There, the then nameless infant, is adopted and named by the inhabitants of the graveyard - some ghostly, one not so much. That last one would be Silas and he almost steals the show from Nobody, but Gaiman keeps the spotlight on Nobody and it works. The stories tell of Nobody growing to adolescence and his efforts to also learn to deal with the living - all the while trying to escape the attentions of the man that killed his family.
I liked it. I've dropped it in a drawer for my daughter when she gets older (along with The Thirteen Clocks and Mistress Masham's Repose). Time to see about a copy of The Jungle Book and Just So Stories.
If you are a fan of YA fiction (and specifically Harry Potter), you are sure to enjoy this book. Gaiman creates a magical world in which our protagonist, Nobody Owens, lives. After his family is murdered Nobody makes his way to the local graveyard where he is cared for and raised by the ghosts that inhabit it. It's a sweet story, blending fantasy and mystery together in a way I found delightful. I found myself bawling at the end of the book; I didn't want it to end! I loved it.
This is the story of Nobody Owens, a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard. It's a pretty cute story. Not the best juvenile book I've ever read, because I think it was a little too "young" for me, but I know a lot of people would love it. It's my first Neil Gaiman, and I can see why people like him. It's whimsical and well written and Mr. Gaiman has a heck of an imagination.
I'd probably read him again, and recommend this book to anyone wanting a light, fun read.
For me it was an impulse to buy this extraordinary book. Actually I walked through B&N children books when I saw the interesting, shining cover. Of course I had read about the book sooner on different forums so I bought it and din't really read the books description. :-)
The man named Jack enters quietly the house, leaving the father, the mother and the daughter dead. With only the little toddler left he makes his way up to the top of the house to find the toddlers crib being empty.
The boy is awaken by a crash in the house. His curious manners make crawl, walking isn't an option at this young age, out of his room, down the stairsand through the open front door.
The man named Jack sniffs the air. He sniffs through the house, outside the door and follows the child's scent.
Mrs. and Mr. Owens look down onto the little toddler that half naked just crawled through the graveyards gates. The approaching man seems to be its father but then they hear a shout the man is going to kill the boy. Mrs. Owens speaks to the voice and fading shadow that begs them to protect the child and take it into their midst.
Mrs. and Mr. Owens agree and the child vanishes in the mist leaving the man Jack alone on the graveyard.
The Owens have been dead for hundreds of years and so have their graveyard friends. It is decided that the boy stays on the graveyard to be safe and raised like their own. With his guardian the solitary Silas, the boy grows and learns the secrets and dangers of the graveyard but getting older he seeks for more then the graveyard can offer bringing him to the danger of the outside world and eventually exposing him to the man who has never stopped searching for him.
I find the book utterly charming and entertaining.
The idea of having a child raised by ghosts learning the ghost of all ages and the graveyards history and accomplishing ghostly abilities is fascinating and lovely described by the writer.
The character Silas and his whole role in the book almost demand of more of him and his following adventures and maybe his former life. Same goes for the man Jack and what drove him to end the lives of Bod's family.
The first chapter though seems for me a bit too graphic for the recommended age range. Being not an expert on children books or not being a parent myself I'd still recommend parents to read over it first and then decide if their child's development is far enough to handle graphic scenes. The chapter might has well have been taken from a cozy mystery.
Otherwise the book is perfectly safe, including everything a child might like: A little creepy, lots of love and friendship between the ghosts and their community and how much love they put into the boys education. Lovely and enchanting.