Category Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

Book Review: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK – Written by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Dave McKean

neil

Gaiman, Neil. 2008. Ill Dave McKean. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. NY: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0060530921

 

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK opens with the tragic story of a small toddler whose parents were murdered in their bed by a man named Jack.  This child (later named Nobody or “Bod”) escapes from the murderer by climbing out of his crib, crawling out of his house, and into the neighborhood graveyard. The kind-hearted ghosts who reside in the graveyard shelter him from the murderer and take him into their “home”.  This award-winning tale “follows Bod’s progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers” (Broadhead n.d.).

 

Stories that revolve around “ghosts…and the supernatural are…very popular with young readers” (Vardell 2008, 210).  However, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is not an ordinary ghost story.  The initial frightening opening scene of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is soon replaced by a wonderfully tender cast of ghostly characters including “teachers, workers, wealthy prigs, romantics, pragmatists and even a few children” (Edinger 2009).  The story’s tone rapidly shifts “elegantly from horror to suspense to domesticity” (Edinger 2009).  This makes THE GRAVEYARD BOOK appropriate for younger tweens as well as teens.

 

As the book skips through Nobody’s childhood, he makes multiple mistakes and encounters numerous adventures rendering him an appealing and charming character.  Gaiman paints a vivid picture of the graveyard residents as their introduction is tied in with charming antidotal stories of their former life. This book would make a positive addition to any library whose readers are ages 8 and up.

 

Enrichment Activities:

There are many teacher extension activities that can be found online for this Newberry Award winning novel.  For instance, Scholastic has a THE GRAVEYARD BOOK teacher’s guide that includes writing prompts, discussion questions, vocabulary, and alternate extension activities.  For a fun extension activity, there are several GRAVEYARD BOOK themed games on Neil Gaiman’s website for young readers called Mouse Circus (http://www.mousecircus.com/bookdetails.aspx?BookID=1).

 

Book Trailer:

 

Reviews: (taken from Neil Gaiman’s website at http://www.mousecircus.com/bookdetails.aspx?BookID=1)

 

  • “Gaiman has a true gift for narrative and a delightfully light touch, and there are humorous details along with spine-chilling ones. YAs will race through this fine tale and enjoy every magical, creepy moment.”
    — KLIATT (Starred Review)
  • “Wistful, witty, wise—and creepy. This needs to be read by anyone who is or has ever been a child.”
    — Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)
  • “Gaiman writes with charm and humor, and again he has a real winner.”
    — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
  • “An utterly captivating tale…this is a rich story with broad appeal and is highly recommended for teens of all ages.”
    — Booklist (Starred Review)
 

Awards:(taken from Neil Gaiman’s website at http://www.mousecircus.com/bookdetails.aspx?BookID=1)

  • Newbery Medal
  • Carnegie Medal
  • Hugo Award
  • Locus Award
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book
  • Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book
  • Audiobook of the Year
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice
  • Horn Book Fanfare
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book
  • Time Magazine Top Ten Fiction
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice
  • New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (Vermont)

 

What to Read to Next:

Gaiman, Neil. 2002. CORALINE. NY: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0380977789

 

Hahn, Mary Downing. 2010. THE GHOST OF CRUTCHFIELD HALL. Boston, MA: Clarion Books. ISBN 9780547385600

 

References:

Broadhead, Hedi. “Editorial Review: Amazon.” Amazon. n.d. http://www.amazon.com/The-Graveyard-Book-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060530944 (accessed April 24, 2014).

Edinger, Monica. “Children’s Books: Raised by Ghosts.” New York Times. Febuary 13, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/books/review/Edinger-t.html?_r=0 (accessed April 24, 2014).

Vardell, Sylvia M. Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

 

 

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Book Review: BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON

Book Review: BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON – written by Jennifer & Mathew Holm

baby

Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. 2010. BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON. NY: Random House. ISBN 978-0375965739.

 

BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON is the thirteenth graphic novel in the award winning BABYMOUSE series. The BABYMOUSE series chronicles imaginative Babymouse’s adventures in hilarious dialog and black, white, and pink illustrations. In CUPCAKE TYCOON, Babymouse’s school library is having a cupcake selling fund-raiser thanks to the library sprinkler accident caused by her overactive imagination. Babymouse is determined to outsell all the other students and win the “special” prize, however, she is “thwarted at every turn by a more aggressive classmate who mounts a massive advertising campaign” (Alverson 2012). Will she win the contest? Or, will she “remember why she is selling cupcakes in the first place—because she loves books” (Alverson 2012)?

The artwork in BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON is drawn in bold black lines with splashes of pink throughout. The total composition (graphic artwork and text) “unifies all the elements” of this novel (Vardell 2008, 54). The illustrations “walk a line between making Babymouse’s world seem realistic and bringing her vivid imagination to life” (Wildsmith 2011).

Graphic Novels for kids are a “fun connection between fantasy fiction and graphic interpretation” (Vardell 2008, 228). The BABYMOUSE series is a fun combination of a relatable and realistic setting (a school) and imaginative fantasies. Anyone who has ever lost themselves in an imaginary daydream will relate to Babymouse’s humorous escapades and mishaps. The plot and dialog in BABYMOUSE: CUPCAKE TYCOON is fairly simple. However, a younger reader or inexperienced reader could be confused by the “shifts back and forth between fantasy and reality” (Alverson 2012).

 

BABYMOUSE Book Trailer:

 

Reviews: (from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Babymouse-2-Jennifer-L-Holm/dp/0375932305/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=)

  •  The Chicago Sun-Times: “Move over, Superman, here comes Babymouse!”
  • Starred Review, The Horn Book: “Nobody puts Babymouse in the corner!”
  • Booklist: “Cute, smart, sassy Babymouse is fun and funny, and this book, like its predecessors, will draw reluctant readers as well as Babymouse fans.”
  • The Bulletin: “An almost absurdly likeable heroine.”

 

Enrichment Activities:

(from the Random House website – http://www.randomhousekids.com/brand/babymouse-squish/activities/?page=1&views=9#searchresults)
Random House has many BABYMOUSE enrichment activities on their website such as crossword puzzles and coloring pages. The Random House website also has a BABYMOUSE tycoon cupcake recipe that parents can make with their children.

cupcake

Moreover, this site has downloadable BABYMOUSE comic fill-in worksheets so children can create their own BABYMOUSE graphic novel.

 

BABYMOUSE Series Awards: (from Jennifer Holm’s website http://www.jenniferholm.com/p/babymouse.html)
• WINNER 2006 – Gryphon Award
• WINNER 2006 – ALA Notable Children’s Book
• WINNER 2006 – New York Book Show Awards

 

The BABYMOUSE Song:

 

What to Read to Next:

  • Harper, Charise Mericle. 2005. FASHION KITTY. NY: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0786851348
  • Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. 2005. BABYMOUSE: OUR HERO. NY: Random House. ISBN 978-0375932304.

 

References:

  • Vardell, Sylvia M. Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

 

 

 

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