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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman. Harper Canada, Toronto. 2008. $19.50 ages 10 and up

“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”

Neil Gaiman says that this amazing novel is a book he wanted to read when he was eight. He started writing it when his son was 2 years old in 1987, and did not feel himself a good enough writer to finish it. So, he put it away and left it for 9 years or so and still wasn't good enough to complete the story. A couple of years ago he decided he wasn't going to get any better and he should get it done. Lucky are we that he did!

It began in a graveyard where he took his toddler to ride his bike, there being no yard where they lived. As they looked at gravestones and wandered the area, he thought there must be a story in it. Only in a brilliant mind would that be true.

The Graveyard Book won the 2009 Newbery Award and the Hugo Award, and those are honors well-deserved. It begins in terror as we travel through a house with a man named Jack, who has killed all members of the family, but the toddler who has left through the open door and is headed toward the nearby graveyard. It is the graveyard's inhabitants who save him from Jack's blade and decide to raise him. Thus, Bod finds a new and safe home and a loving family to replace the one he lost.

Bod is an ordinary boy, but for these circumstances. He grows up with love, good counsel, and a growing awareness of the world beyond the graveyard. He is intelligent, compassionate and loving. But, he realizes that the world out there beyond his narrow world is fraught with danger...Jack still has his knife and a need to kill Bod.

It has been described as exciting, and witty, sinister and tender. It is all that!

The tale is told in a series of short stories, as Bod ages from the toddler who finds refuge with the ghosts to the age of about 16. I hope that means we will meet again. I would be delighted! It has found its place on my 'read it again!' shelf and it won't be long until I do just that! A snowy night, the fireplace, a big pot of tea and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK...does it get better than that?

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