Those first three chapters went by pretty quick. It’s been probably about two years since I last read this book, and back then I stayed up late two or three nights reading this book in big chunks. One of the things I like about read alongs is that they often force a person to slow down and enjoy the book more thoroughly. Before I launch into my ramble, I want to give thanks to Stainless Steel Droppings for organizing yet another awesome reading event. Make sure you stop by there to see Carl’s thoughts on Part I.
Ye Have Been Warned, Spoilers Abound!
The front of my book lets the reader know right off that this is a Newberry Medal winner – which means that it is a great kids’ book. For those of you who are venturing into this book the first time, I hope you went into it with some preconceived notions just as I did the first time. That first chapter pretty much tears those notions down and shreds them with cramp-on laced boots. Jack is not a good guy and he is up to foul deeds a plenty. My book is illustrated, which lends another level of creepiness to this book.
Jack kills off the entire family except the baby boy who happens to have two things going for him: He is precocious, and he is adventurous. So he manages to slip out of the the house and to a local graveyard where he finds protectors. These protectors are not the normal sort; or rather, they are normal, decent folks who just happen to be dead. While the ghosts cannot leave the graveyard, Silas can, and he does in order to find food, clothing, and eventually books for the baby dubbed Nobody Owens. There are all sorts of tantalizing hints about Silas, but since I have read this before, I won’t spoil anything.
In Chapter Two, we’ve moved ahead a few years and Nobody meets his first living friend, a girl his age. The graveyard has been deemed a Wildlife Preserve, so all sorts of folks use it to stroll around in admiring bushes and headstones. I live in the American Southwest, where big wide open spaces abound and the idea of making a graveyard a preserve struck me as odd. But if you stopped putting dead folk in it decades ago and the natural flora and fauna have moved back in, why not? Anyway, Bod and his new friend explore the place together, including tunneling into the oldest grave, a burial mound from ancient times.
Let’s talk about this, because all sorts of weird stuff happened in a short time. There was an old dusty body, then a phantasmic scarecrow that both youths could see, and then the Sleether. The body I get (previous graverobber wannabe). The rest, even on second read, I am still a bit fuzzy on. Perhaps the Sleether has some residual magic (the scarecrow) that it uses to scare off the weak of heart and imbecilic of mind. Unfortunately, these kids weren’t those things, and so the Sleether had to answer the door personally, enjoying a little chat with Bod. The kids flee, and while she is reunited with her parents Bod chats with Silas about what he found in the burial mound. Oddly, Silas doesn’t seem concerned about the Sleether or about Bod playing with it.
Chapter Two ends with Bod’s friend moving away and she fussed at her parents until they brought her to the Preserve one more time just so she could say goodbye. I thought that was touching.
Chapter Three introduces one of my favorite characters of the book, Miss Lupescu. I can just see her with a ruler, cracking knuckles of bored and unprepared students. Despite her lessons, Bod still ends up playing with the ghouls. I have always been of the opinion (snotty it may seem) that it is best to be explicit in describing dangers to kids. Pictures can help get the idea across. Yet, in so many stories, as in real life, the true meaning of the word DANGEROUS is not fully explained to the main character and must be experienced. Bod made a horrible mistake by playing with the ghouls. However, he did have a mini vacation, catching a glimpse of Ghulheim and meeting a Night Gaunt. Miss Lupescu had to cut the adventure short to ensure Bod didn’t become a permanent resident…. or dinner.
And then I turned the page and started Chapter Four, got four sentences into it, and forced myself to put it down. I know; I’m naughty, yet self-controlled.
So what stood out for you in Nobody’s life in the graveyard?
Any newbies want to guess on Silas?
Can you imagine learning your letters from headstones?
Should I do a Graveyard Book dinner for my man featuring the Food from Miss Lupescu’s Kitchen?
Why do you think the 33rd US president made an appearance in this book?