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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on March 24, 2009
Once again, the powerhouse of Gaiman and McKean has turned out a children's book that manages to be so much more. The story is interesting, the characters unusual and memorable, the writing is masterful, and the illustrations are, once again, perfect companions to the images contained.

I'll have to disagree with N. Manning and say that 'personal preference' shouldn't come into play when considering the illustrations. The question really is, do they serve the story and the atmosphere of the book? The answer here is a resounding 'YES'! McKean's scratchy pen-work and tonal layouts help give the story the tone that many readers have praised; they highlight and reinforce the elements hinted at in Gaiman's writing that could very well be lost on some. Their abstractness allows readers to create mental pictures of their own...frankly, this creates a much more engaging read than when the illustrator gives you everything (mind you, the fact that I, in turn, am an illustrator might have something to do with my intense appreciation).

In summary: excellent story, excellent images (both physical and the ones evoked in our heads), superb book!
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HALL OF FAMEon March 18, 2009
Look for the grave necessities
The basic grave necessities
Forget about the living and their strife
I mean the grave necessities
Old Mother Nature's returnees
That bring the grave festivities to life

(Adapted from "The Bare Necessities" - The Jungle Book)

This award-winning novel is actually a collection of related short stories that trace the life of an orphaned boy raised by the inhabitants of a graveyard.

An unlikely survivor of the mass murder that plucked his family from the land of the living, the baby boy is adopted by a deceased cabinet-maker and his wife, and given the name "Nobody" or "Bod" for short. An intervention by the "Lady on the Grey" and the guardianship of a non-reflecting night prowling inhabitant named Silas ensures his safety behind the cemetery gates, with some cool benefits like night vision, fading, haunting and dream-walking.

The humorous, enthralling and sometimes spine-tinglingly macabre stories tell of Bod's various expeditions into the world of the living, as well as his adventures with the dead and undead, and of course there's the whole plot behind the murder of his family to be dealt with.

Another winner from the master of the parallel universe, and highly recommended. Book me a seat for the upcoming movie.

Amanda Richards
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on January 22, 2009
To start, I have to say that even though I have been reviewing young adult books, I have only been reviewing them from an adult point of view. I enjoyed reading this book so much and feel that, like his other book that I recently read, CORALINE, this is also a metaphor for growing up. That said, I shall revert to my young adult point of view.

I don't know that I knew much about metaphors and the like when I was younger, but overlooking any of that this was an awesome book to read. I enjoyed the characters throughout the book, especially the people who took care of Bod on a daily basis, like Miss Lupescu and Liza. The ending was kind of sad for me, though I knew it had to happen that way for the story to come to an end.

The story itself was very descriptive and I felt as if I was growing up along with Bod. The only thing that I would have changed is that I wanted to know more about The Jacks and the prophecy that they spoke of. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is filled with wondrous creatures and I liked the few pictures that there were - they were very well-drawn and I would have liked to have seen more of them.

Overall, I rate this a fantastic read and give it 5 Stars.

Reviewed by: Breia "The Brain" Brickey
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on May 6, 2015
I went in knowing that this was a "retelling" of The Jungle Book, and found it clever than instead of animals, our main character is raised by ghosts.

After baby Bod's family is murdered, he is taken in by the dead from the graveyard next door. Bod's provided with certain abilities and a mentor named Silas who can accompany him in and out of the graveyard, because his bones don't reside there. But what will happen when Bod grows up -- when he meets a girl and has to face that he is alive?

This book was sad, very sad. Yes, kids grow up and have to leave the nest but in Bod's case where there is no such things like phone calls between the living and the dead, the reality is harsh. Aside from the murder mystery part, the book was filled with tiny adventures inside the graveyard that made it a little tedious to read at times (hence my 3 star rating) but nevertheless necessary to get to know the characters.
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on April 30, 2012
Neil Gaiman is an incredible writer, and his homage to Kipling's "The Jungle Book" is a gem of so-called children's literature (by that I mean that you can enjoy at any age). The plot follows the young life of Nobody Owens, who after his family was murdered, is raised and looked after by the ghosts and creatures that inhabit an old graveyard. This seems straightforward enough, until Bod gets old enough to start wondering what happened to his family.

Besides giving the reader a very fresh take on the usually terrifying graveyard creature (why can't a ghost be a caring mother to a small baby, after all?), and by depicting children as sharp and resourceful, this rather unique book gives a gorgeous voice to an unlikely story no one could have tackled as well as Gaiman.

It's not very long (I finished it in a couple of days), but it left me deeply touched and happy. I just wanted to hug the storyteller!
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on March 11, 2013
This book feels a little like a series of short stories about one boy growing up. The stories are all excellent on their own and together they form a quilt of wonder that wrapped me in a warm cozy place - not what I expected from a book about a graveyard! Worth a read as is all of Mr. Gaiman's writing.
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on December 29, 2009
There is a hand in the darkness, and that hand carries a knife. The knife has dispatched nearly an entire family, and the man holding it is on his way to kill the baby.

But the baby is not in his crib. The baby has wandered up the street to a graveyard. The man is in hot pursuit, but the baby is snatched up by a protective ghost, and disappears. The ghosts of the graveyard decide that they will raise the child, who is still being hunted.

They call him Nobody, or Bod for short. A vampire acts as his mentor, and a werewolf is his tutor. But Bod is growing up fast, and sooner or later, he will have to confront his past.

This book won the Newbery Medal in 2009, for good reason. This is a great book, full of mystery and suspense. A must-read!
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on November 29, 2013
I purchased this book to read to my son who dislikes reading himself. It's a challenge to find a novel that he loves, that I will also enjoy reading aloud. This is a clever, well-written children's novel. Friends were sceptical when I told them that I was reading my son a story of a child whose family is murdered, who's then raised by the inhabitants in a graveyard. But Gaimen has a knack for describing frightening character's (the man, Jack) and scenes in a dark, subtle way without being gruesome. The novel is full of interesting characters and a story line that keeps moving. It held my son's interest throughout. I will definitely explore another Gaimen novel.
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on January 12, 2016
Neil Gaiman takes Kipling's Jungle Book into darker, more morbid territory and creates a fable that will delight both children and adults. Told as a series of episodes, it follows the young boy, Nobody (Bod)Owens. As an infant his family is murdered by a mysterious killer, but Bod manages to escape and find refuge in the cemetery at the top of his street, where the ghosts and other creatures raise him. If you can't see how this could be material for a children's tale, look to The nightmare Before Christmas and some of Tim Burton's other animated films. This ranks right up there with charm, wit, and whimsy told through a dark lens. Highly recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 31, 2013
If you go into this book expecting it to be exactly what it is - a spooky book for kids and young teens - then you will not be disappointed. It was a wonderful story that almost had me in tears at the end.

For a kids book, it is very complex. Gaiman covers all the bases. I didn't end the story with one unanswered question. Everything is explained in due course with no blatant info dumps to be found. By the end, I loved that kid like he was my own. Only very good authors can make me feel that way. Gaiman has a new fan!!
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