Summary and book reviews of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2008,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2010,
    320 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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About this Book

Book Summary

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy - an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family. . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal and the 2009 Hugo Award.

Chapter One

How Nobody Came to the Graveyard

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

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.

The man Jack paused on the landing. With his left hand he pulled a large white handkerchief from the pocket of his black coat, and with it he wiped off the knife and his gloved right hand which had been holding it; then he put the handkerchief away. The hunt was almost over. He had left the woman in her bed, the man on the bedroom floor, the older child in her brightly colored bedroom, surrounded by ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About the Book

When his family is murdered one night by the man Jack, an infant boy toddles unnoticed up the street to the graveyard, where he is taken in and raised by its denizens—ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and werewolves. Such an unusual upbringing affords young Nobody Owens (Bod, for short) just about everything he could wish for, but he still longs for human companionship, news of his family's murderer, and life beyond the graveyard. Bod's pursuit of these things increasingly places him in danger, because the man Jack is still looking for him . . . waiting to finish the job he started.


Discussion Questions

  1. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are frequent collaborators. How do McKean's illustrations contribute...

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  • award image

    The John Newbery Medal
    2009

Reviews

BookBrowse

In all – despite brief bouts with rather grisly evildoers – this is a most satisfying tale suitable for children ten and older. Gaiman's lyrical prose not only mitigates the book's more unpleasant occurrences it elevates the stature of its warmest and most endearing characters. And his crisp dialogue speaks to the kind of hipness that pre-teens most enjoy.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (961 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

When the chilling moments do come, they are as genuinely frightening as only Gaiman can make them, and redeem any shortcomings.

VOYA

The conclusion is satisfying, but it leaves room for a sequel.

School Library Journal

Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.

VOYA

Gaiman writes with charm and humor, and again he has a real winner...Everyone who reads this book will hope fervently that the very busy author gets around to writing [a sequel] soon.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Wistful, witty, wise - and creepy. ...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. Ages 10+.

Author Blurb Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels
After finishing The Graveyard Book, I had only one thought - I hope there's more. I want to see more of the adventures of Nobody Owens, and there is no higher praise for a book.

Author Blurb Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
It takes a graveyard to raise a child. My favorite thing about this book was watching Bod grow up in his fine crumbly graveyard with his dead and living friends. The Graveyard Book is another surprising and terrific book from Neil Gaiman.

Reader Reviews
J. A. Thomas

More Please.....!
I had to read this for a on-line college class. I did not think I was going to enjoy it. When I opened the book to the first page, I was pleasantly, surprised. I read the book in a weekend and I really enjoyed it. I would love to read more about ...   Read More

Anonymous chicken

Graveyard book
This was a thrilling story of which Bod became an adult. He has had much more adventure in his life than mine. I really do wish I could be like him. Neil Gaiman writes odd books, usually somewhat creepy, but he has some of the only books of this ...   Read More

Madison Kelly

Fantasitc
It was very suspenseful and kept me on my feet....I very much so recommended this book to anyone who wants to read it.:

Kim

Charming ghost tale
I've been a Gaiman fan for years, with American Gods and Anansi Boy perennially on my ever-shifting "favorite books” list. I thought I’d give The Graveyard Book a try, even though I knew it was a children’s book. I was not disappointed. Although ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

America's Most Haunted Cemeteries
Luckily for young Bod he happened upon an abandoned graveyard that was haunted by benign, some would even say friendly, ghosts. Caspers, one and all. Apparently, not all cemeteries are so hospitable.

The Haunted America Tours website chronicles the ten most haunted cemeteries in the United States. Topping the list is the St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans, Louisiana where forever resides the angry ghost of 19th Century Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau. Laveau's life story is as rife with voodoo lore and legend as is her death and subsequent ghostly incarnations. But several websites nonetheless feature photos purportedly taken of her ghostly apparition in and around her above-...

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