Last year, Neil Gaiman’s novel, The Graveyard Book, won the Newbery medal for excellence in children’s literature. At that point, I had only ever read his Sandman comics (which are wonderful), so I didn’t really know what to expect when I began reading The Graveyard Book. Well, now that I’ve finished this book, I am convinced that Neil Gaiman is a genius at whatever he decides to do.
The Graveyard Book, in a nutshell, is Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book with a twist. Instead of a little boy being cared for by jungle creatures, he’s cared for by inhabitants of a graveyard, namely ghosts. Nobody Owens, Bod for short, is just a baby when his parents and his sister are brutally murdered. He is the only survivor, and the man who killed his family wants to kill Bod, too. When young Bod stumbles into the local graveyard shortly after the death of his family, the ghostly inhabitants agree to take care of the young boy until he reaches adulthood.
Bod is given freedom of the graveyard. He learns to disappear, or fade, at will. He receives lessons in reading, writing, mathematics, and history from ghosts who know of such things. His mysterious guardian, Silas, provides him with food, clothing, and other things required by the living. Bod goes exploring within the graveyard and encounters friendly and not-so-friendly beings, but he is not allowed outside of the gates. If Bod ventures into the world outside the graveyard, he becomes vulnerable to the man Jack who killed his family and is still looking for Bod.
As Bod grows up, he gradually recognizes a desire to see the world and to seek revenge for the wrongs committed against his family. He chafes against having to always remain within the confines of the graveyard. What will become of Nobody Owens? Will he get his revenge on the man Jack? Will he be an inhabitant of the graveyard forever, or will finally join the land of the living? Read Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece, The Graveyard Book, to find out how one boy bridges the gap between the living and the dead.