Tag Archives: young adult


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


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



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: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS – written by John Green


Green, John. 2012. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. NY: Dutton Books. ISBN 978-0525478812.


THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is the heartbreaking and unexpected love story of two teens from contemporary Indianapolis. Hazel Lancaster, a stage IV cancer patient, reluctantly attends a support group for children with cancer at the urging of her parents and doctor.  Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor in remission, attends one of the sessions to support their mutual friend named Isaac as he loses his eyes to cancer. That meeting begins a beautiful and bittersweet friendship between Hazel and Augustus.  Their “relationship flourish[s] even as they both face death” (Syme 2012). THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is a “smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance” (Kirkus Reviews 2012).  Tragic, yet still “brimming with joy”, people of all ages will love this well-crafted young-adult novel (Syme 2012).

Contemporary-realistic-fiction books, written for young people, are a unique genre.  In comparison to plot, the character’s “internal journey and emotional growth are far more significant” (Vardell 2008, 158).  The plot of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is true to life and relatable to the reader. However, it is the metamorphosis of Hazel and Augustus generated by the catalyst of their budding relationship that truly makes this book great. Their search for independence and identity, while experience a blossoming romance and crippling illness, has a “personal resonance for the child reader that is meaningful and worthwhile” (Vardell 2008, 159).  Hazel’s believable, strong, and independent voice  “validates [readers] own search and honors their questions” about love in the face of adversity and death (Vardell 2008, 161).


Reviews: (from John Green’s website: http://johngreenbooks.com/the-fault-in-our-stars/)

  • “Green’s best and most ambitious novel to date. In its every aspect, The Fault in Our Stars is a triumph.” –Booklist, starred review
  • “Luminous.” –Entertainment Weekly
  • “A smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance.” –Kirkus, starred review
  • A blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical, and funny. Green shows us true love…and it is far more romantic than any sunset on the beach.” –New York Times Book Review
  • “One doesn’t like to throw around phrases like “instant classic” lightly, but I can see The Fault in Our Stars taking its place alongside Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in the young-adult canon. Green’s book is also a good example of why so many adult readers are turning to young-adult literature for the pleasures and consolations they used to get from conventional literary fiction.” –Time
  • “Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. The Fault in Our Stars proves that the hype surrounding Green is not overblown.” –NPR
  • “A pitch-perfect, elegiac comedy…it will linger long and hard in the minds of teens and former teens.” –USA Today
  • “An achingly beautiful story.” –SLJ, starred review
  • “John Green deftly mixes the profound and the quotidian in this tough, touching valentine to the human spirit.” –Washington Post


Enrichment Activities:

John Green is a guest blogger on www.teachingbooks.net (http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?aid=73).  This site includes a “Meet the Author” audio book reading of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS that could enhance reader’s experience of this moving story. Moreover, the Teaching Books website has supplemental lesson plans and reading guides.  THE FAULT IN OUR STARS could also be used to raise awareness of childhood cancer.  I have personally run a successful book club featuring this book.  The club members constructed tied fleece blankets to donate to hospitalized children through Project Linus (http://www.projectlinus.org/).


Image from: (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Tied-Fleece-Blanket/)


Awards: (from John Green’s website: http://johngreenbooks.com/the-fault-in-our-stars/)

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • #9 The Bookseller (UK) bestseller
  • #1 Indiebound bestseller
  • New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
  • Starred reviews from Booklist, SLJ, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn Book, and Kirkus


Book 2 Movie Trailer:


What to Read to Next:

Chbosky, Stephen. 2012. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.  NY: MTV Books. ISBN 978-1451696196


Green, John. 2006. LOOKING FOR ALASKA. NY: Speak. ISBN 978-0142402511



Kirkus Reviews. 2012. “Book Review: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.” January 10. Accessed April 20, 2014. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/john-green/fault-in-our-stars/.

Syme, Rachel. 2012. “‘The Fault In Our Stars’: Love In A Time Of Cancer.” NPR. January 17. Accessed April 20, 2014. http://www.npr.org/2012/01/17/145343351/the-fault-in-our-stars-love-in-a-time-of-cancer.

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


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My First Book Trailer! – IN DARKNESS by Nick Lake

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