A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 1 is the first half of a comics adaptation of fantasy author Neil Gaiman's award-wining middle grade novel, The Graveyard Book. It begins with the murders of a young family and follows the surviving toddler as he makes his escape to a nearby cemetery, where he's named "Nobody Owens" by the ghosts who live there. Each chapter of this volume presents Nobody with a new adventure, including a trip into an ancient crypt, a kidnapping by a trio of ghouls, and a chance to "dance the Macabray." Although there are some scary and horrific elements, most readers are unlikely to be disturbed, thanks to the warmth and clarity of illustrator P. Craig Russell's layouts and the finishes by six other accomplished artists. There's some vague flirting with a ghost, no swearing, and no use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. The first scene -- depicting the killing of Nobody's family -- is the most violent.
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What's the story?
On the night the rest of his family is murdered, a toddler escapes to a nearby cemetery, where he's taken in by the kindly ghosts and other fantastic creatures who live there. Named "Nobody Owens," the boy grows up in the graveyard. His curiosity and restlessness lead him into a series of adventures: Nobody and a female friend enter a hidden crypt and discover what lies beneath a magic hill; he and the ghost of a young witch tangle with a crooked pair of treasure seekers; a band of ghouls kidnaps Nobody and threatens to turn him into one of their kind; and Nobody joins the dead and living alike as they "dance the Macabray."
Is it any good?
This graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell (with the assistance of six other accomplished artists) brilliantly redefines the story for a different medium.
The episodic plot is perfect for this kind of collaborative project, with each chapter offering a different look that stills feels part of a unified vision. Rowdy ghouls, ghosts from various eras, a kindly vampire, and a vigilant werewolf are only a few of the supernatural characters depicted with elegance and wit. Readers will want to get their hands on Volume 2 as quickly as possible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how comics adaptations of novels differ from their source material. What effects can be rendered with illustrations that are more difficult in prose?
How do you define a family? What are common characteristics of families of any shape or size?
Do you believe in life after death? What approaches do different religions take toward the issue?
- Authors: Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell
- Illustrator: P. Craig Russell
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: July 29, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 4, 2020
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