This graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Medal-winning novel, The Graveyard Book is likely to become as beloved as the book that inspired it. P. Craig Russell has captured the spirit of Gaiman’s story and enhanced it through his design of the graphic novel. Russell has collaborated with Gaiman before. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his work on this title was so successful. The individual illustrators, Stephen B. Scott, Kevil Nowlan, Galen Showman, Tony Harris, and Jill Thompson, did a wonderful job of bringing Gaiman’s macabre world to life.
There is something about reading The Graveyard Book that conveys a real sense of Bod’s feelings of home and safety in the graveyard, that allows the reader to almost forget how horrifying his neighbors and guardians really are. I knew, intellectually, what sort of frightening creature Silas is, but it didn’t match Bod’s view of Silas as protector and safe haven. So my mind downplayed the monstrous side of Silas’ character. The reader of this graphic novel has no such luxury. One look at the cover image and it is clear how macabre the setting and characters really are. But Bod clearly feels comfortable and secure in their care. That contrast is a major theme in the novel. By making it even clearer through the illustration, this graphic novel actually enhances the story.
Russell not only scripted the graphic novel, he sketched and planned the layout for the entire project before sending each chapter out its illustrator. His unified vision coupled with careful choices of illustrators with similar styles gives the entire project a cohesion that ties the chapters together into a unified whole. But there is enough variation between the styles to give a real sense of each chapter being a separate episode in Bod’s story.
Volume 1 includes chapters 1 through 5 plus the interlude. I know Russell had to trim from the book to make it fit in this format. But he handled the adaptation so skillfully that I don’t feel anything is lacking. The story feels complete. I could go on, and on, gushing about how much I loved this book. It will have a far broader appeal than its target audience of ages 8 to 12 and is a must-have title for any library. I don’t anticipate our copy will spend much time on the shelf.
I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review. I will follow my usual pattern of giving that copy to one of my teen patrons. But I will be buying another copy for myself and a copy of volume 2 when it is published this Fall.
5 stars! Can I give it more? 6 or 7 maybe? It deserves it. By far the best thing I’ve read this year!