The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

ISBN: 978-0060530921
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: 14+
Reader’s Annotation: While his parents are brutally murdered by a man named Jack, eighteen-month-old Bod quietly toddles away into the graveyard, escaping death. As the years pass Bod learns more about his graveyard family, the man named Jack and himself as he explores the cemetery and the world outside.
Summary: As a toddler Bod deftly escapes Jack, the man that killed his parents and his sister. Hidden by the ghostly inhabitants of his local cemetary Bod escapes death that night. Raised by the graveyard community Bod learns how to Haunt, Fade and commune with everyone in his home. But, he's unable to leave the graveyard though he yearns to be among those who breathe. Years later, Bod is slowly given keys to finding Jack, and with the help of his guardian Silas and his graveyard family, Bod conquers that which would conquer him.
Evaluation: While this is a very well written, and quite imaginative novel, I don't know that I would assign it (or award it) to children. The story seems nostalgic and reverential to childhood. I don't know that even older tweens would get it. This is the second time I've read this book and I'm still on the fence about it.
Author Info: Acclaimed and popular author Gaiman’s second foray into the children’s world. The first, Coraline, has spawned a popular movie and graphic novel. The Graveyard Book won the Newbery in 2009.
Booktalk Ideas: Fiction? Fantasy?
Challenges: Any challenges are most likely to due with a book about death (and in a graveyard) winning a Newbery. Violence in the title is not horrific or scary.
Selection: Assigned reading.