The Graveyard Book

I finished listening to Neil Gaiman’s latest novel, The Graveyard Book, at Neil Gaiman’s official site for young readers.  On his recent book tour, Gaiman read a chapter (or in the case of chapter 7, a half a chapter) at each stop on his tour.  Videos of his readings were posted on the site.  I’m not sure how much longer they are available, or if they are permanent, but do yourself a favor and enjoy Gaiman reading his work.  He does it very well, and it’s a gift not all authors have.  For instance, I have heard J.K. Rowling read her work on video, and while she wasn’t bad, she wasn’t a particularly good oral interpreter.  Gaiman changes voices for his characters, giving them different dialects and accents, and his emphasis in the right places draws out much of the humor of the book.  And there is quite a bit of humor in the book.  He’s a wonderful reader.

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens — called Bod for short, a young boy who wanders into a nearby graveyard after his parents are murdered and is raised by the spirits who inhabit the graveyard.  We should all have such an education!  As Silas, Bod’s guardian says, “It is going to take more than just a couple of good-hearted souls to raise this child. It will … take a graveyard.”  Gaiman’s novel is a nod to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.  Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard by the spirits, and until he is grown, they promise to look after him, for the man who killed his family is still out there, waiting.

The book was a pleasure from start to finish, and more so as a result of Neil Gaiman’s superb oral storytelling skills.  I plan to purchase a copy for my classroom library and will recommend the book to my students.  I think it very generous of Neil Gaiman to share his book in this manner, and I am grateful for the experience of hearing him read the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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6 thoughts on “The Graveyard Book

  1. Hello! I really like your site. We have eerily similar reading tastes. I've added you to my blogroll and will be coming back for more. Thanks!

  2. How are you finding Stardust? I'm wondering if I should put it on my "to read" list; I enjoyed the movie (gasp!) but wondered about the graphic novel format of the text– or does it come in another format I'm unaware of?

    Hope your week is going well… we're done with the textbook sections of Canterbury Tales and start The Knight's Tale tomorrow… all 60 pages of it (they hate me right now!)

  3. Ashly, the version I'm reading is not a graphic novel, but a regular novel. I guess it comes in both formats. I like it so far, but have had very little time to actually read it for a while now.

    I hate to tell you this now, as it may be too late, but I found a great site with some prose translations of CT, and they are shorter: Chaucer in Translation.

  4. Thanks! I have actually seen this site, and have what is probably a stupid question: I was under the impression that only 13 tales were completed…? I have the Bantam Classics paperback, which has the Middle English on one side and modern on the other; most of it isn't in iambic pentameter anyway, so that's what I'm using for the Knight's Tale. I actually like the rhymed couplets better, and I think the kids do too… but to teach some of those others in the future, I will totally be using that site:) I'm also using Joe's Graceland pilgrimage idea; thanks again for getting me on there!

  5. I don't know. You could be right. He had the ones I needed, so I didn't think about the others. I have the same version of CT and used it last year. Joe's great, isn't he?

  6. Neil Gaiman is like a one-man sub-genre, the literary equivalent of Tim Burton. He gives reality a twist and imbues the macabre with humor. Indeed, you need a sense of both to appreciate him. In the past month, I have read The Sandman graphic novel series, listened to Anansi Boys (adult) and The Graveyard (children) on CD, and enjoyed the short stories and poems collected in Fragile Things. Gaiman shows versatility even as he sticks to his not quite natural knitting.

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