02 October 2009

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

Who is Nobody Owens, and why does The Man Jack want to kill him?

Nobody Owens is the child who lives in the graveyard. He is not a ghost, but his adopted parents and most of his friends are--and they have taught him many of their tricks for escaping human detection.

Nobody came to the graveyard as a toddler, having left his home via the door The Man Jack forgot to close when entering. The Man Jack murdered Nobody's family and was after him as well, but after when the child snuck into the graveyard, his newly-dead mother availed upon the ghosts to protect him. So Nobody grows up in the graveyard, learning his letters from former teachers. He makes a human friend and eventually even goes to school, growing with the adventures of each chapter.

Why The Man Jack wants him dead in the first place, however, isn't clear until nearly the end, when The Man Jack finally gets another chance at Nobody.

Gaiman, who has also given us The Sandman and Coraline, won the Newbery Medal for this delightful book, which he says took him twenty years to translate from idea to text. In spite of the supernatural setting and somewhat disturbing plot, there is really nothing either scary or objectionable about the book, which is enjoyable for children of all ages.



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