Reviews for Graveyard Book
Booklist Reviews 2008 September #2
*Starred Review* While a highly motivated killer murders his family, a baby, ignorant of the horrific goings-on but bent on independence, pulls himself out of his crib and toddles out of the house and into the night. This is most unfortunate for the killer, since the baby was his prime target. Finding his way through the barred fence of an ancient graveyard, the baby is discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a stable and caring couple with no children of their own and who just happen to be dead. After much debate with the graveyard's rather opinionated denizens, it is decided that the Owenses will take in the child. Under their care and the sponsorship of the mysterious Silas, the baby is named Nobody and raised among the dead to protect him from the killer, who relentlessly pursues him. This is an utterly captivating tale that is cleverly told through an entertaining cast of ghostly characters. There is plenty of darkness, but the novel's ultimate message is strong and life affirming. Although marketed to the younger YA set, this is a rich story with broad appeal and is highly recommended for teens of all ages. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
After fortuitously escaping the murder of his family, a toddler is taken in by the ghostly denizens of a local graveyard. Growing up in this strange setting entails many adventures, leading to a final showdown with the murderer. Occasional art enhances the otherworldly atmosphere with a flowing line and deep grays and blacks. This ghost-story-cum-coming-of-age novel is both bittersweet and action-filled. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #6
When a toddler fortuitously escapes the murder of his family by "the man Jack," he is taken in by the ghostly denizens of a local graveyard, renamed Nobody Owens, and ushered through childhood by the kindly Mr. and Mrs. Owens and the enigmatic Silas. (As "Bod" soon learns, there are more kinds of people than just the living and the dead, and Silas falls outside those categories.) Growing up in this strange setting entails many adventures, from getting kidnapped by ghouls, to procuring a headstone for a shunned young woman who was "drownded and burnded" as a witch, to, most dangerous of all, attending school with other living children -- all of which prepare Bod for a final showdown with the man Jack, who has never stopped hunting him. Lucid, evocative prose ("'Look at him smile!' said Mrs. Owens...and with one insubstantial hand she stroked the child's sparse blond hair") and dark fairy-tale motifs imbue the story with a dreamlike quality. Warmly rendered by the author, Bod's ghostly extended family is lovably anachronistic; their mundane, old-fashioned quirks add cheerful color to a genuinely creepy backdrop. McKean's occasional pages and spots of art enhance the otherworldly atmosphere with a flowing line, slightly skewed figures, and plenty of deep grays and blacks. Gaiman's assured plotting is as bittersweet as it is action-filled -- the ending, which is also a beginning, is an unexpected tearjerker -- and makes this ghost-story-cum-coming-of-age-novel as readable as it is accomplished. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 August #2
Wistful, witty, wise--and creepy. Gaiman's riff on Kipling's Mowgli stories never falters, from the truly spine-tingling opening, in which a toddler accidentally escapes his family's murderer, to the melancholy, life-affirming ending. Bod (short for Nobody) finds solace and safety with the inhabitants of the local graveyard, who grant him some of the privileges and powers of the dead--he can Fade and Dreamwalk, for instance, but still needs to eat and breathe. Episodic chapters tell miniature gems of stories (one has been nominated for a Locus Award) tracing Bod's growth from a spoiled boy who runs away with the ghouls to a young man for whom the metaphor of setting out into the world becomes achingly real. Childhood fears take solid shape in the nursery-rhyme-inspired villains, while heroism is its own, often bitter, reward. Closer in tone to American Gods than to Coraline, but permeated with Bod's innocence, this needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child. (Illustrations not seen.) (Fantasy. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 September #5
A lavish middle-grade novel, Gaiman's first since Coraline , this gothic fantasy almost lives up to its extravagant advance billing. The opening is enthralling: "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." Evading the murderer who kills the rest of his family, a child roughly 18 months old climbs out of his crib, bumps his bottom down a steep stairway, walks out the open door and crosses the street into the cemetery opposite, where ghosts take him in. What mystery/horror/suspense reader could stop here, especially with Gaiman's talent for storytelling? The author riffs on the Jungle Book , folklore, nursery rhymes and history; he tosses in werewolves and hints at vampires--and he makes these figures seem like metaphors for transitions in childhood and youth. As the boy, called Nobody or Bod, grows up, the killer still stalking him, there are slack moments and some repetition--not enough to spoil a reader's pleasure, but noticeable all the same. When the chilling moments do come, they are as genuinely frightening as only Gaiman can make them, and redeem any shortcomings. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) [Page 82]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 October
Gr 5-8-- Somewhere in contemporary Britain, "the man Jack" uses his razor-sharp knife to murder a family, but the youngest, a toddler, slips away. The boy ends up in a graveyard, where the ghostly inhabitants adopt him to keep him safe. Nobody Owens, so named because he "looks like nobody but himself," grows up among a multigenerational cast of characters from different historical periods that includes matronly Mistress Owens; ancient Roman Caius Pompeius; an opinionated young witch; a melodramatic hack poet; and Bod's beloved mentor and guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead and has secrets of his own. As he grows up, Bod has a series of adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, and the threat of the man Jack who continues to hunt for him is ever present. Bod's love for his graveyard family and vice versa provide the emotional center, amid suspense, spot-on humor, and delightful scene-setting. The child Bod's behavior is occasionally too precocious to be believed, and a series of puns on the name Jack render the villain a bit less frightening than he should be, though only momentarily. Aside from these small flaws, however, Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.--Megan Honig, New York Public Library [Page 144]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2008 August
An assassin creeps upstairs to murder the only survivor of a slaughtered family. But the baby boy is gone. Innocently he has climbed from his crib, bottom-bumped downstairs, and headed outside, before toddling into a nearby graveyard. There ghostly Mrs. Owens, who has always longed for a child, realizes his danger and determines to adopt him. A lively debate erupts among the graveyard ghosts. Mrs. Owens finally gets her way after Silas, a mysterious visitor in the graveyard, volunteers to be his guardian and to bring him food. The baby, formally named Nobody Owens, is voted the freedom of the graveyard and there he thrives, loved and cared for. The freedom of the graveyard bestows ghostly talents, and Bod is taught useful skills like Fading and Haunting. But beyond his safe home there is danger. Bod stumbles into frightening adventures in this world and another, and Silas faces death fighting an ancient Fraternal Order determined to kill the boy. Gaiman writes with charm and humor, and again he has a real winner. Readers quickly begin to care about Bod and the graveyard residents. Bod's encounter with the ghouls is brilliantly inventive. Miss Lupsecu, his substitute guardian while Silas is away, is dry-as-dust strict, a bad cook, and a friend to the death. The conclusion is satisfying, but it leaves room for a sequel. Everyone who reads this book will hope fervently that the very busy author gets around to writing one soon.-Rayna Patton PLB $18.89. ISBN 978-0-06-053093-8. 4Q 5P M J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.