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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is mildly creepy with a bit of violence, suspense, and menace, including a man who murders a family and tries to murder a toddler and a teen boy and girl.
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What's the story?
On the night Jack murders a family in their beds, their toddler runs out into the night, pursued by the murderer, and finds his way into a cemetery. The ghosts there chase away the murderer and, after much argument, decide to raise the boy. They name him Nobody, Bod for short. As long as Bod stays in the cemetery they can protect him from Jack, who is still searching for him. But a growing boy, even one who is granted the Freedom of the Graveyard, eventually needs contact with the living world -- and it is the world of the living that holds the most danger for Bod.
Is it any good?
It may seem odd to say it, but this is a lovely book. Suspenseful, yes, and a bit creepy, but lovely nonetheless. Author Neil Gaiman has learned a thing or two since his entry into children's books. His acclaimed first novel, Coraline was clever and technically proficient, but lacked heart, as did Stardust. This one has it in spades, and in the strangest places.
Gaiman begins with one of the great opening sentences ("There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife"), and quickly introduces a very relatable protagonist, a boy who grows from 18 months to 15 or so years, increasing his power and confidence but retaining the innocence of one who doesn't know the world. He gives him touching relationships with his ghostly parents and vampiric guardian, and though he has some scary adventures with ghouls and snake-like tomb guards, the graveyard world is never nearly as frightening as that of the living, especially to a boy who has been raised there. By adding a bit of heart and soul to his already brilliant writing, Gaiman has raised his game considerably.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Neil Gaiman
- Illustrator: Dave McKean
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: September 30, 2008
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 312
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: July 22, 2019
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