Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Graveyard Book

If you have kids, or work in a bookstore or library, you probably know that Neil Gaiman won the Newberry for the Graveyard Book. As such the hold list at the library was fairly long, but it was worth the wait.

Gaiman uses the Jungle Book as inspiration, but makes the story very much his own. After losing his family, a boy named Bod (short for Nobody) is raised by ghosts as well as a mysterious character who lives amongst the dead but is not truly dead himself. Bod learns the ghostly arts of subterfuge and uses them in a number of unfortunate encounters with the living world.

The narrative is wonderfully constructed. While it initially appears to be a series of unrelated, if quite entertaining, stories, each episode serves to develop a satisfying conclusion. He also manages to slip in all sorts of hints of backstory that fascinate. I was thinking it would be fun to learn more about some of these things, maybe in some follow up short stories, but look what wanting to know more about the Clone Wars got us. The illustrations are great too.

While I really liked the book, I am not sure I want to share it with my kids, at least just yet. In the first few pages there is a rather dramatic death involving a family. Now, you can't watch a Disney cartoon without running into a tragic parent death. Most of them are sad but not necessarily scary. The opening scent of Finding Nemo is an exception, in fact we usually skip it. In the Graveyard Book a decidedly creepy and likely nightmare inducing fellow dispatches the family with a sharp razor. It creeped me out and gave me visions of a tall angular fellow hiding just beyond my view. I can just imagine what it will do for the kids.


kwandongbrian said...

I'll hold off on buying it for a while.
My son is three and a half and I find myself rushing his experience with books; buying ones that "he will grow into"; that I remember as a child so are likely appropriate for, I don't know, eight or ten year olds. Mostly, I want to read them again.

Gaiman has an excellent voice and you can hear him read from the Graveyard book at:

A book I am loving is The jungle Book by Matthew Reinhart. It is not a "pop-up book" it is an example of "paper engineering". It is far too cool to be a mere pop-up. A lot of Kipling's story is written inside: The advertising says it is for 4-8 year olds ( a huge range), but I would say even ten year olds would like it. I suspect you would, too.

Tripp said...

We do the same with our kids. We have all sorts of books waiting on the shelves. Now our oldest (8) is getting into ones we have held on to for years.

I love the Reinhart and Sabuda paper engineering books. We have quite a few now, but we do not have the Jungle Book which looks awesome, and quite related to the Graveyard book.