Newbery goes to ‘The Graveyard Book’

The Graveyard Book, a Jungle Book takeoff about a toddler raised by ghosts and werewolves, has won the Newbery Award for children’s literature.

(Neil) Gaiman’s book opens with a baby boy escaping an assassin who is massacred by his parents and older sister. The boy totters to a decrepit cemetery, where he’s adopted by ghosts, christened Nobody Owens (Bod for short) and given the Freedom of the Graveyard.

On Gaiman’s blog, he writes that “The Graveyard Book” is not a children’s book. It’s “a book for pretty much for all ages, although I’m not sure how far down that actually starts. I think I would have loved it when I was eight, but I don’t think that all eight-year olds were like me.”

The book isn’t meant to be scary, says Gaiman. It’s about growing up.

The award maintains the modern Newbery tradition of honoring books about death and parental absence. But it sounds like more fun than some of the recent honorees, which have been criticized for being inaccessible and dreary. It was a best-seller pre-Newbery.

About Joanne


  1. My memory from the late eighties was that a Newbery Medal was something you could trust: This Book is 100% Guaranteed to Suck.

  2. deirdremundy says:

    The graveyard book was a TON of fun!!!! I can’t believe they picked it!

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    My sons and I listened to this on audio on a long car trip. We have loved all of Gaiman’s picture books and novels. His book Coraline was made into a movie and will be released shortly. His picture books, Wolves in the Walls and The Day I swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish are incredibly memorable. He reads for his own audio books and his voice is wonderful. Can you tell we’re fans?

    I’m so pleased that he won. I think this is a definate departure from their typical choices. Hurrah for them.

    By the by, I’ve read all of his adult fiction novels, not the graphic novels, myself.

  4. This is a great choice for the Newbery!

    BTW, you can see the author reading the entire book at:

  5. The Wolves In The Walls was brilliant and hilarious. The Sandman graphic novels are extraordinary. And I was first introduced to Neil Gaiman by Good Omens, which I go back to again and again. I have no doubt this will be a delight.

  6. Neverwhere. Stardust. American Gods. Anansi Boys.

    I thought he should have won the Newbery for Coraline, which is marvelous.

  7. This is by far one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. My son, who is 12, also thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one that when you pick it up, you do not want to put it down. We were both thrilled to hear that this book got the Newberry.

  8. Robert Wright says:

    Gaiman is a shockingly good writer.