Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Graveyard Book

Gaiman, N. (2008). The graveyard book. New York: HarperCollins.

"As long as you are alive, you have infinite potential." Nobody Owens, who lives in a graveyard, was told this by his dead and undead friends who also lived in the graveyard. This delightful, whimsical story is based on the theme, "It takes a graveyard to raise a child." The grisly murder by Jack (the Ripper?) of Nobody's family when he was a toddler begins the tale. Nobody (Bod for short) miraculously avoided the same fate through his curiosity. As he toddled into the graveyard, the ghost of his dead mother followed and begged the graveyard inhabitants to take care of her son. And they did, nurturing him, feeding him, and teaching him in a wonderful mix of generational knowledge and speech. Bod, the protagonist and round character in the story, learns lessons as well from impetuous mistakes that he makes through curiosity or his kindness for others. As he grows, he intentionally learns more about the 'outside' world in order to avenge his family. The illustrations by Dave McKean are black and white, sometimes in sharp relief and other times nebulous, right in tune with the ghoulish nature of the book. Occasionally a page is black with white font.

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