The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is one of those amazingly talented authors who seems able to write for any age group he chooses. The Newberry award winning story, The Graveyard Book, is intended for a child audience, but that doesn’t mean an adult won’t enjoy it. It’s excellent! It has such an interesting and creative premise – a little boy is rescued and raised by the ghosts inhabiting a graveyard. It is, in many ways, a coming of age story.
Nobody Owens, also known as Bod, though quite alive, is being raised by ghosts, and has a guardian who is neither alive nor dead (my best guess is a vampire, but Gaiman never says). On top of that, Bod doesn’t dare leave the graveyard for fear of being found by the man Jack. You see, the man Jack killed Bod’s family when he was just a baby, and he is searching for Bod to finish the business off. Gaiman manages to pull this off without the story becoming morbid, depressing, or terrifying. So, Bod grows up in a graveyard, having all sorts of adventures, and learning to do things most don’t (like how to make oneself disappear), and not learning many things that most do (like reading a menu). The characters are unique and well developed, and quite real to life. A few aspects of the story are quite mysterious and only ever hinted at, which creates a good deal of atmosphere and suspense.
Interestingly, though it does not deal directly with the topic, this story is also a good choice for any child asking questions about death, or had a loved one recently die. It presents death in a very calm, though areligious, way – not at all scary.
Neil Gaiman is a talented and versatile author, who is definitely worth checking out. Some of his other titles (for both adults and children) include: Fortunately, The Milk; The Ocean at the End of the Lane; Coraline; Stardust; and the Sandman comics, among others. Neil Gaiman has won many awards, including the Newbery, the Carnegie, Nebula, and the Hugo. Coraline, and Stardust have been made into major films.