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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaima

By Mr. Vlach | Books | June 9, 2009 |

By Mr. Vlach | Books | June 9, 2009 |

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman was this year’s winner of the Newbery Medal, the prestigious award given to children’s literature. As I started reading it, I wasn’t really enjoying it, but then I got to the beautifully written chapter in the middle entitled “The Danse Macabre,” and the ending really tied the story together.

The main plot of the book follows Nobody Owens, who goes by the name Bod. Bod lived with his parents and sister until they were brutally attacked and killed when he was a baby. He managed to elude the killer and escape to the local graveyard where the ghosts agree to take him in and give him sanctuary. As Bod grows older, he interacts with a fascinating mix of characters from various time periods, including the bizarre Miss Lupescu, the witch Liza, and Silas, his guardian and protector. All of the residents of the graveyard are fiercely protective of Bod, especially when he reencounters the man who murdered his family when he was so young.

The Graveyard Book is a beautifully written fantasy story, but this was especially exemplified in Chapter Five, “The Danse Macabre.” This chapter describes a special occasion in which all of the townspeople gather in the town square to dance with the ghosts of the cemetery, then the memory quickly fades for the people when the evening is over. Gaiman does an incredible job infusing this scene with the details of the movements and music, helping me to create a spectacular picture in my mind as I read it.

The Graveyard Book is definitely a title that would appeal to adults as well as children. It is darker than Coraline, and may not be appropriate for younger children, but would be recommended for fans of fantasy.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Mr. Vlach’s reviews, check out his website, The Luminous Reader.

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