Book Suggestion: The Graveyard Book
July 21, 2010
One night, a family is murdered. That is, everyone except the youngest child. By chance, or perhaps by fate, the young boy ends up in a local cemetery. The ghosts of the cemetery swear to raise the boy, whom they name Bod. So long as Bod remains in the graveyard, these ghosts can protect him from the man whose mission is not complete until he kills Bod. This is the premise of The Graveyard Book written by Neil Gaiman.
Each chapter focuses on a different point in Bod’s first fourteen years of life. For instance, in Chapter 2, Bod finds a cave guarded by a mythical creature and meets his very first friend from what we consider the normal world. While all the macabre imagery is fantastic and might give kids a thrill or two, it’s the message here that is so strong. Bod may be from our world, but he wasn’t raised in our world. Literature and films usually show graveyards as spooky, dangerous places. For Bod, our world is a dangerous place because he is not protected from the man who killed his family. Also, while there are some dodgy places and creatures in the graveyard, most of the ghosts are portrayed as average people going about their daily business. How they behaved when they were alive is the same way they behave now as ghosts. Some in the book see Bod as scary because he can do things that people can’t do in our world. However, it’s made clear that Bod’s abilities come to him because he perceives things differently from people in our world. In the end, this book is a coming-of-age story of a young boy, just told from a very different point of view. A treat for children and adults, it is easy to see why this book was the 2009 Newberry Award Winner.
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