The Graveyard Book Book Poster Image

The Graveyard Book

Creepy AND warmhearted -- one of Gaiman's best.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Bod tries to help other children against bullies.


A man murders a family with a knife, tries to murder a toddler, and threatens a teen girl; creatures are injured while protecting a boy.


A reference to couples kissing and "roll[ing] about."

Not applicable

Car brand.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink gin.

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.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this book and The Jungle Books, which the author says influenced him. What are the similarities in plot and style? How are they different? Do you know of any other "wild child" stories?

Book details

Author:Neil Gaiman
Illustrator:Dave McKean
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:September 30, 2008
Number of pages:312
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of The Graveyard Book was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 4, 4, 7, 9, and 11 year old Written bygzegras November 18, 2010
Parent of a 1 and 6 year old Written byjandrewworld June 19, 2010

There is a reason why Neil Gaiman has won every award when it comes to literature.

This is the perfect book to read with your child before they go to bed. Each chapter is a self contained story, but each story sets up the end of the book. The only problem I had is that the book ends. Perhaps this summer I will read it with my little girl.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bypussycat123 November 14, 2011

Need to Read! (especially at halloween.)

I just finished reading this book, and its one of the best books i have read besides the harry potter series. i got kind of confused in some parts. but most of all a very good book to read.
What other families should know
Great messages