A spooky, thoughtful, and atmospheric Newbery Medal winner.
Recommended grade level: 4 and up
Pages: 312 (for ISBN 9780060530921)
Summary: Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their timely ghostly teachings-like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other. This chilling tale is Neil Gaiman’s first full-length novel for middle-grade readers since the internationally bestselling and universally acclaimed Coraline. Like Coraline, this book is sure to enchant and surprise young readers as well as Neil Gaiman’s legion of adult fans. (Source)
Who will like this book?: Spooky, beautifully written, and full of fascinating characters, there’s a lot to hold the attention in this Newbery Medal winner. It’s creepy, but not in an in-your-face way like. Give it to kids who like atmospheric stories that spring to life from the page.
Who won’t like this book?: Although there is a common main character and overarching plot, the book is made up of several loosely woven short stories. As such, the book doesn’t build up the type of momentum some readers, especially reluctant ones, might crave. Though it’s not the scariest in its genre, some may find the book too scary.
Other comments: There are two graphic novel volumes of this story, as well. Fun fact: this book is based loosely on The Jungle Book.
Readalikes: Fans should check out Gaiman’s other works, especially Coraline for younger readers and The Sleeper and the Spindle for older readers. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal is another creepy character-driven tale.