Neil Gaiman is a prolific author who has produced work across a variety of different platforms from short stories, novels, graphic books and even writing for theatre, television and film. He is also one of my favourite authors. Gaiman has won many prestigious awards over the course of his career including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards. Gaiman was the first author to win both the Newbery and Carnegie medals for The Graveyard Book and also bagged the Hugo and Locus Award, for a book which is considered by many his finest work written for young readers.
“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Gaiman’s initial idea for The Graveyard Book began in 1985 where he pondered around the concept of writing something similar to The Jungle Book, but set in a graveyard. The idea was put on hold by Gaiman as he believed he was “not yet a good enough writer”, every few years he would revisit the story and come to the same conclusion. Eventually Gaiman decided he was as good as he was going to get, at least for his ability to tell this tale and wrote The Graveyard Book which was published in 2008.
The book is broken up in to eight chapters, each of which is a short story and follows a young Nobody Owens (Bod for short) through two year intervals as he is raised by the inhabitants (ghosts) of the graveyard on the hill. Bod is an inquisitive child who despite the warnings of his graveyard family, and Silas his minder, remains fascinated and drawn to the outside world. The inhabitants of the graveyard give Bod what they call the “Freedom of the Graveyard” which allows him to have abilities any other person who finds themselves in the graveyard would not possess. These abilities allow Bod to fade and to travel through solid objects, just like the ghosts who school, discipline and care for him. His education is a different too, as well as learning to read, mathematics and other skills the children of today learn at school, Bod, learns how to read the stars, historical facts the history books don’t teach and more sinister lessons regarding creatures and monsters any other child wouldn’t believe existed, or if they did would eventually grow out of believing. However Bod’s arrival in the Graveyard as just a baby is the result of a tragic and murderous act, which comes back to haunt him, but will he be ready to face the man who took away any chance of Bod having a typical and traditional childhood so many of us take for granted?
Each chapter is brilliantly written by Gaiman who has crafted an unusual and heartfelt coming of age story which sat in the top ten of the New York Times bestseller list for a staggering 61 weeks! This truly is a modern classic for children and one which covers so many themes, from friendship and family, to death and difference. Gaiman has written a book which has found a place in my heart and my favourites list, and if you give it a chance I guarantee it will find a place in yours too.
BB Rating: 4.3/5
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