Recommended Reading: Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”

The Graveyard Book

The music filled Bod’s head and chest with a fierce joy, and his feet moved as if they knew the steps already, had known them forever.

If you need a pedigree before you feel comfortable going Young Adult, first switch The Man Jack’s knife for the tiger Shere Kahn’s claws, substitute Silas for Baloo the bear, and swap Bagheera the panther for Miss Lupescu.  Second, get rid of Victorian ghost couple Mr. and Mrs. Owens and put Father Wolf and Mother Wolf of the Seeonee wolf pack in their place.  Finally, move them all out of the graveyard and drop them into the jungle.  Yup, you’re reading a spooky version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a classic since its publication in 1894, so display that Newbery Medal seal on the cover proudly.

When an amazing, high-concept idea blooms in your imagination, you’re lucky if you can work half of what’s in your head into a medium others will enjoy.  The truly dedicated might realize sixty percent, and the passionately driven could even see eighty percent of what they envisioned on the page.

After watching his son play among the tombstones, Gaiman waited years to develop as a writer before he even attempted this story.  Ultimately, it took him more than twenty years to write The Graveyard Book, and his patience served him, and us as readers, well.  Gaiman gets every scrap of meat off of this idea of an orphan child raised by ghosts, and then he sucks the marrow and renders the shell into plumber’s putty.

It wouldn’t surprise me if people are reading The Graveyard Book in a hundred years.


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