[Monday Reading] Graphic Novel Adaptations of Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” by P. Craig Russell

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! You still have a few months left before the year ends to win book prizes.

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Here is the sign up page and the September-October linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick courtesy of Pansing Books.

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Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.

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I discovered these two graphic novel adaptations of Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book by accident at the library. I think they were meant to find me.

IMG_5115The Graveyard Book

Based on the novel by: Neil Gaiman Graphic Novel adaptation by: P. Craig Russell With Illustrations by: Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, Stephen B. Scott.
Published by: Harper, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I enjoyed reading the novel when it first came out, and wasn’t all too surprised when it won the Newbery Medal. I remembered how each chapter seemed like a stand-alone story and there were characters that stayed with me even after I finished the book such as Bod and Silas. P. Craig Russell’s two-volume adaptation of The Graveyard Book, along with an army of talented illustrators who worked individually on each chapter, added a different aesthetic layer to my re-reading of this beloved story. If I liked it before, I love it even more now.

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Mister and Mistress Owens were somewhat similar to how I pictured them in my mind. They took this stray young boy in as he was being stealthily chased by the man with the knife. Kind dead souls as they are, they were determined to stand by their promise to the baby’s mother to protect him. However, as Silas, the undead pointed out, the Owenses can not be left on their own to raise Nobody Owens: it will take a graveyard:

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If anything, I am glad to be reacquainted with specific characters in the story such as The Lady on the Grey who reminded the arguing grave-folks that “The dead should have charity.”

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Then there is Bod’s very first breathing, living friend, Scarlett Amber Perkins who would figure later on at the end of the story.

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In this first volume which consists of Chapters One to Five through the Interlude, the reader also gets to meet the Indigo Man in its fully-illustrated (pun intended) flesh (or what can pass off as such):

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Then there is also the infinitely charming Mrs. Lupescu, the Hound of God, who provided lessons and concocted remarkably unappetizing dishes:

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I especially enjoyed being reminded of how Bod would get a few of his useful lessons from the folks in the graveyard – which included blending into the furniture and rendering himself unnoticeable (not necessarily invisible):

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And who wouldn’t forget Bod’s first love, the witch Liza Hempstock, the seeds that most likely planted the idea of The Ocean at the End of the Lane in Gaiman’s mind:

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While I have totally forgotten the story about the ghouls, now that they are visualized so effectively in this graphic novel, I don’t think I will soon forget the Duke of Westminster, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Emperor of China, and the 33rd President of the United States.

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Then there is the Danse Macabre at the end of the book, very reminiscent of Bradbury’s whimsy and capacity to evoke the power of the in-between:

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What I also like about Gaiman is how he never talks down to his middle grade readers, he has faith that they have an infinite capacity to grasp old truths such as this one:

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For someone like me whose country is the universe of books, this resonated with me even more deeply. I am home wherever there are books.

The Graveyard Book, Volume 2IMG_5097

Based on the novel by: Neil Gaiman Graphic Novel adaptation by: P. Craig Russell, With Illustrations by: David Lafuente, P. Craig Russell, Scott Hampton, Kevin Nolan, Galen Showman
Published byBloomsbury, 2014
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I never expected to be as deeply moved by the second novel in the series as much as I did. I was unable to stop copious tears from flowing when I reached the end as I witness Bod grow into a fine young man literally before my eyes:

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And such a bookworm he is too! I don’t even recall Bod attending school, but now that I read it, of course it made so much sense. And then there is that thread about bullies Nick Farthing and Maureen Quilling – because it appears like schools would not be complete without these characters. Somehow, their presence in the story only served to illuminate the kind of man that Bod is growing up to become, and that despite Silas’ best interests, he could not protect Bod forever:

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Admittedly, I didn’t particularly like how Silas was portrayed in this graphic novel. While I had a sense that he was among the undead (read: vampire) when I read the novel, I didn’t want it to be so stark in the illustrated version of the story. I would have preferred him to be depicted without a cape and red eyes, but someone more mysterious, kind of like the weary traveler, the vagabond, or a gypsy man enfolded by twi-lit skies, able to blend in from crowd to crowd; restlessly moving without being seen. But that is how it is.

One of my favourite episodes from Volume 2 is when Bod sought out the advice of Nehemiah Trot, the poet.

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I thought he gave sound advice: go to her, implore her, and call her your terpsichore.


I now appreciate even more how each thread of this tale seemed sufficient unto itself, yet they all managed to weave together so seamlessly in the end with such breathtaking mastery. The story reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine – not so much for the theme but the way that each chapter is so solidly written, they seemed like perfect short stories. Then there are also the delicious skeins of darknesses that weave in and out in both Bradbury’s and Gaiman’s tales. These are books that one should gift one’s self: they are that precious, and more.

Currently Reading…

I am glad to share that I managed to finish all three books last week: Syllabus by Lynda Barry, The Land Of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly, and Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe.

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That is what happens when you have five-hour long flights and no in-flight entertainment to speak of except literature. This coming week, I am planning to read the following graphic novels:

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What It Is by Lynda Barry and The Tragical Comedy of Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Possibly one novel too, still haven’t decided which one. 🙂

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The Graveyard Book, Volumes 1 and 2: YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2015, Fiction

#AWBRead2015 Update: 81-82 (35)

5 Comments on [Monday Reading] Graphic Novel Adaptations of Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” by P. Craig Russell

  1. Someone else recently read The Graveyard Book in gn format, too. I have the text, would like to get to it at some point!
    I read the nonfiction books you showcased here this past week – the ones on the creators of Superman and Batman. They were very interesting!

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  2. I told you on Facebook, I do love this Graveyard Book, love that I can re-visit it in graphic form, Myra. I’ve read it more than once with a book group, & the students loved it too. Thanks for sharing a thorough review. “it will take a graveyard!”

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  3. I’ve come to the conclusion I like Gaiman more as a human than a writer but it’s never stopped me from reading his newer works.

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  4. I’m always hesitant to pick up an illustrated version of a favourite novel (or film adaptation), because I always picture characters and scenes a certain way, and I’m nervous to see how they will be illustrated or brought to life. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this adaptation -/I enjoyed the novel, too, so I should give the graphic novel a try!

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  5. Can’t wait to read GN Graveyard Book Bk2, loved 1….

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