Book Review- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman, Neil. 2008. The Graveyard Book. New York, New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060530945
b. Plot Summary
The Graveyard Book opens with a grisly triple murder. It was supposed to be a murder of four, but the fourth family member, a young toddler, wanders away towards a cemetery before Jack the murderer has a chance to finish the job. In the cemetery, the toddler encounters the Owens’- an older couple with no children that happen to be ghosts. With the tot’s family no longer alive, the Owens’ take it upon themselves to adopt the boy. All the denizens of the graveyard help raise Bod, short for Nobody because “he looks like nobody but himself.” There are plenty of adventures to be had in the graveyard, but Bod cannot ever leave because Jack the murderer is still on the hunt for him.
c. Critical Analysis
Gaiman does a fine job blending frightening and friendly in one fantasy novel. Although the story begins with quite a terrifying entrance, the text quickly moves into a more child-friendly plot. Bod has a pretty normal upbringing- he learns to read and write, makes friends, and gets into trouble. Through rich language and attention to detail, Gaiman brings the supernatural characters to life. Each character has a distinct voice throughout the novel. The only downside of the text might be that Bod may be too mature and precocious for the average reader to relate to.
d. Review Excerpts
· Newbery Medal Winner
· Starred review from Kirkus “Wistful, witty, wise-and creepy. This needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child.”
· As a visualizing exercise, the teacher can have the students illustrate various scenes throughout the book. The student can add details to their illustration after rereading the scenes aloud to a partner.
· Author study of other Neil Gaimain’s fantasy books:
o Coraline ISBN 9780061660160
o Odd and the Frost Giants ISBN 0061671738
o M Is for Magic ISBN 9780061186424