Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Length: 307 pages
Genre: Juvenile fantasy
Plot Basics: A murderer goes after an entire family, but the youngest member -- just a toddler -- manages to slip away... and toddle into a nearby graveyard. There, the toddler becomes Nobody "Bod" Owens and is raised as a living boy among the dead. Bod is taught the secrets of the graveyard, how to Fade and frighten people, but he craves human companionship. As he grows up, it becomes clear that those who originally wanted to do Bod harm want to see the job finished.
Banter Points: This is another one of those books that shouldn't be labeled as a kid's book, because grown-ups really should read it too. Gaiman's spooky riff on Kipling's "The Jungle Book" is great storytelling, with a full cast of delightful characters. Bod's struggle to figure out what it means to be human among a graveyard full of dead people from different times is poignant and surprising.
Bummer Points: A few plots threads aren't ever full explained, but Word Nerd's holding out hope that this means she'll get to visit with Bod Owens again.
Bonus News: This just in. The Graveyard Book was named as the Newberry Award winner for this year. Neil Gaiman's got the whole story about how he learned of it up on his blog here.
Word Nerd Recommendation: A sure bet for readers of all ages.