Sword & Laser Kids discussion

The Graveyard Book > There was a hand on the keyboard, and it started to type...

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message 1: by Cliff, Moderator (last edited Oct 31, 2014 03:31PM) (new)

Cliff | 43 comments Mod
Happy Halloween, everyone.

So, our trick was that October was a Laser month, so our treat was delayed until November.

But maybe some of you have already started reading or have already read the book to celebrate the spirit of this Holiday.

Let's get some "lively" discussion going.

How have you chosen to read it? Having already read this a few years back, I decided to go with the Audiobook read by Neil Gaiman. I'd heard so many good things about it, so I thought it'd be fun.

For those of you reading it...is your edition illustrated? And if so...has the style of illustration affected your interpretation of the book?

message 2: by library_jim, Creator & Organizer (new)

library_jim | 112 comments Mod
I've read it and I'm pretty sure I listened to it but I'm not sure if the narrator was Gaiman. He did read them aloud on the book tour and they're all still up on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOF01...

message 3: by Beth, Moderator (new)

Beth | 73 comments Mod
I've read it before, but the first chapter still creeps me out. In fact, I hesitate to recommend it to kids below third grade because of it, even if they are good readers. Am I getting overprotective in my old age?

message 4: by library_jim, Creator & Organizer (new)

library_jim | 112 comments Mod
No, I would definitely say it's a grade 5 and up book. Probably middle school. Coraline is for the third and up crowd, And his many picture books.

message 5: by Cliff, Moderator (new)

Cliff | 43 comments Mod
I'm no longer sure where such lines can be drawn. By 3rd grade (my elder son's now in 4th), most of my son's entire class had already read all of Harry Potter and my feeling was that some of the villains in Harry Potter are at least as creepy as Jack.

Is the first chapter any more jarring than any the start of any "orphaned child" story? Say, Bambi or the Lion King? Admittedly, Gaiman has a penchant for the macabre, but I also got a sense of playfulness from his writing.

Actually, I don't know what it was about it, but Coraline creeped me out more than this one.

message 6: by library_jim, Creator & Organizer (new)

library_jim | 112 comments Mod
I've been thinking about this and yes, there is no good line to draw. As an elementary school librarian I'm always looking where to draw the line and it's like that judge said about pornography, "I know it when I see it."

The company I primarily order my books from has little checkboxes when you do a search for "interest level" and they have boxes for K-3, 3-6, 5-8 and on. I generally click the first two and order from there. I only look at items in the 5-8 box that students have requested. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson fall in there. So do the Wimpy Kid books. Megan Whalen Turner has books that show up as 5-8 and some that show up as YA. I don't get YA. Both Coraline and Graveyard Book are listed as 5-8 with similar reading levels. The Coraline graphic novel, however, is listed as 3-6 while the Graveyard one is listed 5-8.

There are other tools to help me gauge these things, but that doesn't mean my students can only read things in my library. I haven't purchased any of the Divergent books, but they are popular with many of my 5th graders, as are The Hunger Games books.

Each reader enjoys a wide range of books and only they (and they're parents) can really decide what's appropriate for them. That's why I hate the obsession with leveling. The Color Purple is on a 4th grade reading level, but go read the first two pages of that book and let me know if you'd ever let a 4th grader read it.

There is one scale that is more reasonable. It's the "F&P" scale. They take reading level, as well as content suitability into account. So on all other scales Coraline and Graveyard book are the same, but on that one Coraline is a "W" (which would make it okay for my Harry Potter/Percy Jackson loving kids) but Graveyard Book would be an "X" (which just means more middle school appropriate).

None of this means anything other than guidelines to help folks find the right book for them and none of it is very scientific. It just means Graveyard Book is slightly more mature than Coraline. Coraline is creepy but the protagonist is around elementary age and nothing too terrible happens. Graveyard Book has a murderer stalking the main character and some more experience with satire would be helpful as well as historical background knowledge to get more of what's going on in the book.

I mean The Giving Tree is supposed to be for everyone but it freaks me the hell out, so there you go.

message 7: by Beth, Moderator (new)

Beth | 73 comments Mod
I fell off the internet for a month, so I'm late getting back here.

I think there's a big difference between books kids pick up and books you hand them. I wouldn't hand Graveyard Book to a young kid unless I knew them very well, but I wouldn't stop them if they picked it up. I think most kids are very good at putting down the things they don't want to read. As a librarian, you are in the middle -- everything in the library is there because you put it there, but there are also the books you personally hand to students.

I found Coraline emotionally much more mature than Graveyard Book, because it hits fears that seem appropriate for elementary, so it's interesting that F&P switches that. Most kids don't really fear being stalked by a creepy murderer, but many do wonder if their parents really want them.

The kids in our family group (1st grade, 8th grade, and 11th grade) said 3rd grade and up for reading Graveyard Book, but that only some first graders would be OK with it. They all approved it for a fifth grade reading club. Many suggested reading the first chapter with the younger kids, and that everything after that was fine (because that's the only one that happens in the "real world" I expect).

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