Graveyard Book

I finished reading The Graveyard Book yesterday. It was one I had been intending to run down to Blue Willow and get a copy of for a while before it won the Newberry. A critique group friend loaned it to me Thursday night. One of our local chapter SCBWI officers was on the Newberry selection panel (can’t remember if it was 2006 or 7) and she gave a presentation at one of the monthly meetings on how the books are selected. I asked her if it was a requirement for a Newberry book that at least one character had to die.  The Graveyard Book certainly fits that criterion (even though she denied it was one). At least five characters that I can remember died over the course of the book, although the reader never actually met four of them, just heard rumors of their existence. And of course, everyone in the graveyard was dead (or undead). Things I really liked about the book: Mr. Gaiman made some interesting twists on well-known folkloric entities. Evocative writing. (Mostly) quick pacing. Highly unusual premise. The touch of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It takes a graveyard (to raise a child). Things I did not like: I found the first chapter to be a little slow (e.g., there was a scene between “the man” and “the man Jack” where I kept tripping over who was who). I wanted to know how the ghouls got their names, especially how one came to be called “The 33rd President of the United States” (that would be Harry S. Truman). I wanted to know more about the Jacks of All Trades. **SPOILER ALERT** I didn’t understand Scarlett’s reaction at the end in the Indigo Man’s cave when Bod saved her from the cold blooded killer. I don’t know what he could have done differently that would have pleased her. It wasn’t like he killed anyone. I didn’t see anything wrong with a little sleer-induced instant Karma. ** END SPOILER ** I was neutral about the illustrations. I enjoyed the book, although it left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied because not all my questions were answered. I would be interested in reading Silas’ story and finding out what happens to Bod next.