Sunday, March 1, 2009

Neil Gaiman. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

Sometimes the Newbery award book perplexes me or makes me wonder why it was chosen. Not this one. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is truly deserving of all the honors it is receiving.

Nobody Owens was named by his parents. Not so unusual. Except Nobody’s parents are ghosts. Nobody, or Bod as his friends call him, wandered into the graveyard as a baby after his family was murdered. The inhabitants of the graveyard had a feeling he was in danger and adopted him. Mr. & Mrs. Owens became his parents, while someone named Silas became his guardian. Bod grows up in the graveyard, learning from ghosts teachers and playing with ghost children. Except for the ghouls, witches, dreamwalking and trickery, Bod has a perfectly normal childhood. But one day Bod learns that the man who killed his family is still after him. He will never truly be free to live his life with that man after him. So, he must make some difficult choices.

This book is filled with adventure, intriguing characters, spookiness and dread. It is the quintessential children’s book that will be adored by all ages. I love the way Gaiman writes. There is something about the way he describes things. Whereas normally I’ll get annoyed at an overly descriptive scene to the point where I begin skipping over stuff, here I relished every phrase, every well-chosen word. For example:

“The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.” and…

“The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.”

I mean, really, don’t you have distinct pictures in your head after reading these excerpts? Don’t you want to read them again? That’s just the beginning. When we’re introduced to the different characters from such wide-ranging time periods, we get to enjoy an array of dialects and quirky people.
I thoroughly enjoyed this Newbery and really want to read more by Gaiman.

But this book trailer does a much better job of creating the mood of the book. Check it out. It has the illustrations from the book (which are stunning, by the way) created by Dave McKean.
Press play & be patient, it takes a moment to start.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean from booksamillion.com on Vimeo.

More on the book and video of the author reading the book click here.