A couple of the comments centered around the macabre/horror aspects of the book. After all, the main setting is a graveyard and the story opens with the main character’s family getting murdered. And yet, the book is written as a children’s book (and received a major award for children’s books). What age would be the appropriate audience for this book? Do you think the macabre aspects of the story are treated in a way that makes them appropriate for children? How do you feel about the way death and the afterlife are treated in this book, which is geared towards children?
Ok, that’s enough heavy thinking for the end of the week!
The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal which is an award for middle grade books.
Here’s my wishy-washy answer: It depends on the kid.
I think kids today are exposed to a lot of things—including violence, sex, harsh realities—that you and I and our parents were not exposed to at similar ages. News and information is more readily available today, and it’s everywhere—we’d have to store kids under their beds to keep them from being exposed to non-kid-friendly scenes and ideas. Certainly, kids’ books have changed since the time when they were being written for me. Remember when Ramona’s Big Bad Ugly word was “guts”?
I think the matter-of-fact, this-is-perfectly-normal treatment of the characters, death, and the graveyard is good. It sets the stage for that world, and I don’t think death and graveyards need to be scary or overly serious things. Graveyards can be fun places, and we’re all going to die.
I don’t feel the same about the murder. I’m opposed to violence as entertainment. Period. I think normalizing violence and making it a form of entertainment makes people too willing to accept the real thing. I think people should be shocked and horrified by violence, real or pretend.
I totally agree with Jen and would like to add that I think this is a perfect way to introduce a “Goosebumps” fan to other types of literature.