I’d heard a lot about The Graveyard Book even before it won the Newbery since it’s by Neil Gaiman, a man who inspires a following like few others.
And then, when it did win, it was heralded as the redeeming book for the Newbery award; it was considered proof that sometimes the Newbery committee doesn’t pick obscure, heavy books, but instead ones that appeal to actual real children and that even boys would like (I know. . .a book boys will like. Who knew such a thing even existed?).
Of course, it still has dead parents in it, so it’s not like it’s strayed ALL that far from one of the time-and-Newbery-honored themes.
the graveyard book by neil gaiman
Anyway, it obviously meant I had high hopes for The Graveyard Book, expecting it to be fun reading. And when the book started out with a murderer named Jack creeping through a dark house, having murdered the parents and a sister and now ready to off the little baby boy, I assumed I was right.
But then it kind of slowed down for me. I kept thinking, “Hmm, what a very odd choice.”
I continued to hear comparisons to the Jungle Book – a series of semi-related stories, rather than one long storyline – and this didn’t thrill me at all. I don’t really like that kind of thing – give me a novel over a short story every single day of the week (actually every single day of my life).
Fortunately, though, The Graveyard Book really picked up in the second half and wow, by the end, I just wanted to weep a little, it was so lovely and poignant and also sweet and funny. The story comes together more tightly and cleverly than I’d expected, and I absolutely fell in love with Bod, the escaped baby boy who grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts and the mysterious non-ghost/non-human Silas.
It really was an excellent Newbery choice – you can’t ask for much more in a book than this one offers.
Neil Gaiman, you came through.