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.