Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

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Fantasy/Sci-Fi > The Graveyard Book******POSSIBLE SPOILERS********

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JG (Introverted Reader) One of our group reads for May. Let us know what you think when you finish!


message 2: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments Sweet! So to go to my question in the other thread: why do you think this book deserved the Newbery Award?


message 3: by Jackie (last edited May 07, 2009 07:40PM) (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) *Originally posted in the non-spoiler thread*

Here's a link to Gaiman's Site for Young Readers. You can view Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book in it's entirety during his tour from last year.

http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour....

This one has the entire book online, including illustrations:
http://browseinside.harpercollinschil...


JG (Introverted Reader) I love this book. But I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that it won the Newbery. I thought it was just a good story. I didn't really see it as an Important Contribution to Children's Literature. But if I really think about it, I guess maybe kids today feel a little more insecure than I did growing up, so maybe seeing how Bod overcomes all the violence in his life helps them? That feels like a stretch though. I still just see it as an entertaining story. Did you have any thoughts on this, Tahleen?


message 5: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments Well I talked about this with some friends, and we kind of came to a similar conclusion. There are a lot of lessons kids can take from it, like facing your fear (the Indigo man as well as other moments), and not judging someone based on other people's judgments (Bod befriending Liz); but these lessons are gently learned. Plus I thought the story was incredibly original and I kind of wish I had thought of it and written it first. Not that it would have been anywhere near as good.

I also loved Silas and his "order" (I forget what it's called). What did you think of them? Or what did you think they were?


JG (Introverted Reader) I liked Silas's group. I liked that these "creatures" who are generally thought to be evil were actually protectors. At least this particular group was. Who better to protect you from the things that go bump in the night?


message 7: by Josie (new)

Josie (maid_marian) | 126 comments I remember thinking that maybe Silas was a vampire... was he? or was he something else?
I really liked the Jack of all trades idea - a clever play on an established saying, twisting it to mean something else.


message 8: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I really wasn't sure about what they were. The only clues I remember, was he wasn't really dead or alive and he had no reflection.


message 9: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments I thought he was a vampire too. All the classic myths seemed to fit. Plus there was a werewolf, a mummy... a vamp just fits.


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (mrsfun) | 89 comments I also thought Silas was a vampire. The velvet "wing-like" cloak, the flying creature over the police car, no reflection, not able to eat, etc. all kinda gave it that impression.

Even given the reasons JG & Tahleen gave, I still have a hard time seeing this as a Newberry winner. I enjoyed reading it, but the highest award in children's literature? Must have been a slow year.


message 11: by Vicki (new)

Vicki That could be true... I think I lost most of the details in the audio version. I am trying to train myself to listen better. Being a vampire totally makes sense though.


message 12: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments I do believe Gaiman deserved to win an award like this though. He's made so many wonderful contributions to YA and adult literature alike. I like to see him recognized.


message 13: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments I think it was just because she was a witch and the other characters had a prejudice against her. Plus she was buried just outside the graveyard without a stone which might have had an impact on their judgment too, as she was probably seen as an "outsider." But Bod didn't pay attention really and investigated, to his benefit and Liza's.


JG (Introverted Reader) And it seemed to be a pretty old graveyard. Were any kind of dates given? I assumed that she lived around the times that burning "witches" was the norm. Didn't she actually die that way?


message 15: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments She died because they drowned her, and then burned her. But I think she was the only witch in the graveyard, which admittedly does not make a whole lot of sense. But the oldest person there (besides whoever was buried with the creepy monster thing whose name I can't remember) was the Roman guy. Maybe witches were not a normal thing back then? Or maybe she was the only one they decided to even bury.


message 16: by Beth (new)

Beth Knight (zazaknittycat) | 390 comments I just finished the book and I really liked it. I wouldn't let my 8 year old read it just yet, but maybe when he's 11 or so? I definitely agree with what you guys have said about kids learning about facing fear and dealing with prejudices. I read Coraline a couple of months ago and that was the first Gaiman I read. I never really read this kind of book until then. I'm looking forward to reading Neverwhere A Novel soon.


message 17: by Laura (last edited May 14, 2009 12:10PM) (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I just finished it too, and am surprised re: the Newbery as well, but having said that....I think it was really nice that Bod stood up to a bully and overcame that, he faced all of the Jacks and stood up to them, he befriends/loves everyone, looks out for those being harrassed, discriminated against, or picked on, and learns at the end to face life head on and live it, for better or worse. Some really good messages there.

I did think the plot and pacing could have used some tightening tho.


message 18: by Vicki (last edited May 14, 2009 05:33PM) (new)

Vicki I think there were some issues I had with the beginning. I was a little put off by it being a childrens book and the family being brutally murdered in the beginning.

I loved how he dealt with the bullies. I thought it was wonderful that even though he put himself at risk he was protecting many others. The lesson there was valuable.

Oh and I have to say, personally I enjoyed Liza as a character. She had a flair about her I really liked. I laughed about when "she wasn't talking to him". I felt it portrayed her character nicely.


message 19: by Lisa Julianna (new)

Lisa Julianna (lisajulianna) I just finished this book. I liked it, I agree some parts were brutal and I'm not sure someone under 11 or 12 should read it. I just listened to an interview on the internet that he had done on the Today Show and he got the idea from teaching his son to ride his bike across the street in the graveyard. When his son was riding he thought to himself I can write a book about this. He was also inspired by The Jungle Book.

Anyways I agree parts were definatly brutal but there were definatly good messages in their too.


message 20: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments I forgot about the bully thing! I did like that part.

I think what I like best about the book is despite all of Bod's great and even noble attributes, he is not perfect. He makes lots of mistakes for silly reasons. He actually scares the girl (forgot the name, what else is new) he befriends away from him because he is willing to do what it takes to accomplish what he thinks is right.


message 21: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) I finished audiobooking this yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised by it. I thought Neil's voice was great and really lent something special to the story. Some of the chapters at the time didn't make sense... like the Ghoul Stone, but then it came together at the end and made a lot more sense. I was also surprised at the amount of lessons included in one story. I agree with most of the comments though, this is not for young children. Listening to the part where Mr. Frost reveals himself had me at the edge of my seat, so I can't imagine a young child listening to it. lol.

I also liked Liza. I found her endearing and it was so cute the way she sniffed on audio. I didn't not quite understand though at the end why the girl (can't remember her name either) was so mad at him? He did save her life and she knew they were after him so I didn't get why she was angry at him for taking care of the Jacks.


message 22: by Tahleen (last edited May 21, 2009 03:17PM) (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments Eh, I think she was scared that Bod had the capacity to do that to anyone. I was kind of aggravated by her reaction too though.

I actually called it that Mr. Frost was the man Jack. I had this suspicion, I felt like it was leading up to something.


message 23: by Jensownzoo (new)

Jensownzoo Did anyone else experience this book almost like a movie? I liked it well enough, but when I came to the end I had the thought that it wouldn't take much "adaptation" to put this on the silver screen. I wondered if it were deliberate (given the frequency of adaptations of Gaiman's work) or if it just happened accidentally...an understandable occurrence as the author shifts between media like a jackrabbit on a caffeine high.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan (mrsfun) | 89 comments It has already been announced that film director Neil Jordan is going to be making this. I believe it comes out next year.


message 25: by Jensownzoo (new)

Jensownzoo Somehow, I am not surprised...


message 26: by Kathy (last edited May 25, 2009 09:46AM) (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments I, also, thought that Gaiman was hinting toward Silas being a vampire with the no reflection, neither dead nor alive, not eating clues.

And, Liza was a favorite character of mine, too. I thought she had just the right amount of sassy and independence. I liked her better than Bod's live friend, Scarlett.

I loved all of the graveyard characters. Bod's parents, Mr. and Mistress Owens, Mother Slaughter, Alonso Jones, Josiah Worthington, and all the rest. The graveyard setting was just so well done.

The bullying part really showcased Bod's character, his strong sense of right and wrong. I liked it when Mo got her comeuppance.

I thought the opening line of the novel was wonderfully chilling, a great opening line--"There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife." I do agree with others here who have expressed the opinion that it might not be quite suitable for some younger ages. I have an 8-year-old granddaughter that I will wait a bit to share this book with. She likes scary, though, so I might let her have a go at it next school year. I'll probably check with my daughter before doing so.


message 27: by Pam (new)

Pam (pammylee76) This was the second Gaiman book for me. I read Stardust last year.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. For me it was OK. I was curious to see who "the man Jack" was, and how Bod would get away from him. But other than that the book didn't really hold my interest all that much. I did think all the things that Gaiman came up with were very interesting.


message 28: by Allison (new)

Allison (inconceivably) I read this yesterday...I thought it was just so COOL! That is the best word I can use to describe it...I agree that I don't think it deserved to win the Newberry so much...maybe another award though. I loved it.

I agree with Silas being a vampire.

I like how there are so many things left to the imagination...and at the same time, I hope he writes a sequel, it would be fun to see what Bod ends up doing with himself.


message 29: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Allison, I think your description is right on. In fact, "cool" is the single best word to describe Gaiman period, from his books, to his blogs, to his personal being. And, I agree with you and you, too, Heather, about a sequel. It would be, well, "cool." Heather, I was considering maybe letting my granddaughter read the book next school year, but after reconsidering the murder of the family, it might be best to wait a bit longer. Of course, kids all mature at different rates, but I think 10 might be a good age for The Graveyard Book. However, I am very much against book censorship, so I hate to think that the book would be denied to kids who want to read it.


message 30: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (bookgoddess1969) I just finished this and really enjoyed it. I would say that my only complaint is that I would have liked more about the day-to-day life in the Graveyard. It jumps from when Bod is 1 1/2 years old to about 5, I would've loved more from that time period. How was it like adapting a toddler to that life? I am left with alot of questions.

I loved the characters: Silas, Mr. and Mrs. Owens and the whole cast of very unique characters. They were a loving family, and I found it quite sad, when at only 15, he started losing the magic that let him see his friends there.


message 31: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (bookgoddess1969) And one more thing.....when I first read up on this book and learned his name, I thought, how saw is that, his being a "Nobody", but that is completely false. I love it that when everyone was speaking out about who he resembled and reminded everyone of....and then Mrs. Owens speaks out that he doesn't look like nobody but himself. Nobody is definitely somebody! I really loved that naming. :)


message 32: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (affie) | 468 comments I loved this book. I thought the characters, the story, the setting, and the history were all incredible fascinating and captivating.
There are a lot of comments about whether or not people think this deserved a Newberry or not, with the general consensus being not. I would have to respectfully disagree with everyone. About a year and a half ago, I made a goal to read the whole Newberry Award and Honor list. While I am no where near done with the honors, I have read well over half the winners. Although there are some elements to this book that might need a little consideration, I really do feel that it is deserving of its award. The most significant or important contribution covers a lot of ground. I think that Bod learned a lot about himself and about life in this book that really translates well to the reader without being preachy. There are things you can learn and pick up on at any age level. He learns not to judge people too harshly or too quickly. The teacher that takes Silas' place while he goes away (I don't remember her name...) was an adversary at first, but once he gives her a chance and got to know her, there was a great connection between them. He learns about himself as well. The name on the passport is perfect. I could go on and on about the life lessons learned, but because this post is already to long, I will stop...

Anyway, I think that those life lessons learned are only one part of what makes this book not only a Newberry contender, but a winner. The books on the Newberry list tend to become a genre in and of themselves. A friend and I who are both trying to read the full list jokingly decided we would write the next Newberry, and we made a list of all the 'requirements' of a Newberry winner. This book is different. It brings a completely new perspective on life, makes people-even kids- think about a lot of things in life, and does it in a completely new way. I have felt lately that there is a distinct lack of variety in YA and Children's literature, and this book ignores what everyone else seems to be doing and brings us something that I felt was totally new and unexpected. And, I do believe this is the only Newberry book I have ever read that begins with a knife, and several brutal murders. I loved it because it was new. I really do think this book brings a lot to literature. Although I do agree that this book would probably be best read by kids a little older.


message 33: by Tahleen (new)

Tahleen | 229 comments Ashley, that is exactly how I feel but couldn't quite articulate. You did a fantastic job at what I was unable to do!


message 34: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (affie) | 468 comments Thanks! It took me a while to figure out how I wanted to say it, but I loved this book, and just had to get it out there!
I definitely need to read more Gaiman. I've been circling his books for a while, and after reading this, I think I am going to bump them up the TBR!!


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