Thursday, December 31, 2009

The graveyard book by Neil Gaiman

Many people have said to me how much they loved The Graveyard Book although perhaps loved is not quite the best word. This is simply a marvelous and compelling story. It says in the back that Neil Gaiman spent 20 years thinking about and writing this book and yet the highly skilled writing seems so effortless. Gaiman is such a descriptive writer and if you have ever visited a graveyard you will certainly be able to really see this one through the writing and your imagination.

Bod (Nobody Owens) lives in the graveyard with a colourful cast of characters from the past. This cemetery is no longer in use and so the ‘inhabitants’ are all from a bygone era. Bod is in real danger. His life has been seriously threatened and so the dead souls agree to offer their protection and they grant Bod the Freedom of the Graveyard. Luckily for Bod there is one nondead soul who dwells in the graveyard – Silas. It is Silas who will go into the world to get food and later clothes for Bod and it is Silas who will offer important advice and friendship to Bod as he grows to the teenage years.

Bod could have a surprisingly pleasant upbringing in the graveyard with all these souls to care for him but all through there is the underlying threat of danger from the one who wanted to murder him when he was just a tiny child. This man Jack literally stalks the pages of this gripping book constantly waiting for the right moment to strike.

With amazing illustrations by Chris Riddell this is a book to savor and enjoy, it is a book to read and re-read, it is a book I would not hesitate to recommend to a senior primary student as one of my top books of 2009. No wonder it was the winner of the Newberry Award.

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