I am always on the lookout for good children’s literature. I enjoy kids books that tackle interesting concepts without getting heavy handed and overly preachy. A children’s book should also be fun. Neil Gaiman’s book mingles fantasy and adventure with a bit of silliness. The result is something I could read my own kid when he gets old enough, without being bored. The book starts a bit tragically with a murder. I am not in favor of exposing kids to gratuitous violence, and Gaiman handles the actual murder with subtlety and taste. Clearly, I would have a problem exposing this book to younger children, but it is not too horrifying for middle grade readers. A toddler survives the murder and makes his way to the Graveyard. In the Graveyard he is adopted by a kindly couple and receives the ability to wander the graveyard at will.
As Nobody (as the toddler is called) learns about life, death, the Graveyard, and himself he makes some friends along the way. He has a ‘guardian’, Silas, a little girl named Scarlett, and a ghost witch buried in No Man’s Land help Nobody understand the world around him. As Nobody grows, he is not free from the threat of the man who killed his family long ago. I enjoy Nobody as a character because he isn’t terribly noble, or brave, or obedient. In short, he is like a regular boy. That degree of normalcy mixed with the paranormal makes this story incredibly sweet. Not that I seek after sequels, but I would be interested to see what other adventures Nobody could encounter after leaving the Graveyard.