Thursday, January 29, 2009

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

Let me add to the community chorus my congratulations to Neil Gaiman and The Graveyard Book for winning this year's Newbery Medal -- the premier American children's fiction award. When I read the news the other day, I finished up the book I was reading and picked up this one. I had waited long enough and I needed to read it.

This is a coming of age story that just happens to have an unconventional setting -- a graveyard. Life is not always happy for young Bod Owens (short for Nobody) but the point is that he should still be glad that it is life. Though he is raised by adoptive ghost parents, taught by a werewolf and his guardian is a vampire, he must discover and embrace his humanity. Obviously, from the first sentence forward, this book trusts children with topics that are often hidden from them -- fear, loss and death. Gaiman does a fantastic job in his gentle presentation of these "scary" subjects without losing any of the bite of the narrative. This is a unique tale in that it's not essentially a happy story or a sad story, it's just a story -- a damn fine story.

Working through the ups and the bumps,

Buy The Graveyard Book on Amazon or find it at your local library.

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