Thursday, October 08, 2009

This year's Newbery winner

I finished reading The Graveyard Book this evening, this year's Newbery Medal winner. A summary of the book from the Newbery site:

"A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens."

The first chapter of the book is chilling. Actually, the first half of the book felt that way to me. I wondered why this was the Newbery winner through much of the first half because of the theme. Right at the start a family is murdered, except for the 18-month-old baby. I wondered who the children would be who picked up this book to read and how it would make them feel. And I wondered who was on the committee and chose this dark tale as the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."

But I didn't feel the same way at the end. I wept at the sweet hope at the end of the book. It is incredible writing, vivid and filled with wisdom. Perhaps one could say that is it all the Harry Potters combined into 307 pages. The author, Neil Gaiman, who also wrote Coraline, acknowledged Rudyard Kipling's "remarkable work" The Jungle Book. I've never read it but there's another comparison for you, though instead of being raised by animals, this child was raised by the dead. Who thinks like that?

So I don't know what I'm recommending. I just have to talk about it. That is something, if I have to share then I must be recommending it, though not to any children I know. I'm not sure what age I would say should read this book. I felt so many emotions leafing through the pages. I guess I do hope that someone else I know reads through to the end so we can talk about the tale of Nobody Owens.


Megan Oliphant said...

I read it a few months ago, and I felt the same way. I let Sarah read it, but I wouldn't have Pete read it for a couple of years. I definitely give it a PG-13 rating. The writing was intense and powerful, and I was truly moved by it, but it was waaaayyy too adult for a children's book. That first chapter is truly horrifying.

Shannon said...

I enjoyed this book - very clever.
The librarian at the elementary school where I volunteer keeps it in back and checks it out to students only on teacher recommendation.

Sara said...

We loved it! I couldn't read it fast enough and had to remind myself to take it easy so I could understand it. And yes, I was scared by it, too. Kind of creepy. I wouldn't say it's a children's book, either. I would put it in Young Adult. Any other book suggestions? You have good taste.

Kathy said...

I'll be interested to read it. I read Neverwhere a few years ago, and I think Neil Gaiman has some interesting ideas.

Jen Bailey said...

I have liked every book you've recommended (especially The Hourglass Door). So, I can't wait to read this one. Thanks Sorella.

Kathi said...

Paige, looks very interesting. I put a request into the Library to reserve it. :)