Daily Archives: January 27, 2009

A Giddy Gaiman Gal

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Sharon’s evidence of my happiness at the Newbery announcement at the press conference.  More photos documenting the event over here.

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Now THIS is the sort of celebrity-written kid book I go for!

There’s been so much discontent in our small little corner of the literary scene about celebrities (say actors or singers or politician’s children) dashing off children’s books.  Well, I just want to point out that Neil Gaiman is one BIG celebrity and I’m not seeing any carping about that, thank goodness!

In fact, the Newbery is getting media mention in places heretofore I would suspect the word has never been used.  MTV, anyone?

Neil Gaiman, the prolific multimedia scribe who we’ve been mentioning quite a bit lately in reference to the upcoming 3D animated adaptation of his novel “Coraline,” has been awarded the John Newbery Medal — one of the most prestiguous awards for children literature — by the American Library Association. Gaiman received the award for his recently published story “The Graveyard Book,” about a boy raised by ghosts.

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Sentiment, Coming-Of-Age, and Morals, Oh My

“It’s a great fantasy novel and really good for kids who like Harry
Potter and don’t mind the dark quality,” said Rosie Camargo, a book
seller at The Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, which specializes in
children’s books. “I’m so happy he won. They usually pick something
more sentimental—a coming-of-age story, or there’s a moral.

Neil Gaiman’s ‘Graveyard Book’ captures Newbery award — chicagotribune.com

As may be evident by now, I’m on the moon that he won. However, not because of the reasons given by this book seller. (And my apologies to her if this is a snippet of a soundbite that isn’t really what she thinks. What she said is what many seem to feel which is why I’m responding to her.)

1. Be careful about giving it to fans of Rowling’s work as this book is very different.  The first few chapters are basically self-contained stories and it is not the driving, pacing, page-turning adventure of the Harry Potter sort at all.  As I was reading it aloud to my 4th graders some commented on this, even noting that it was a bit slow at times. (Not for me, mind you, but these happened to be reading HP at the time.  So I’d be careful about giving it to those sorts of readers.)

2. As for sentimental — try reading the last line without weeping.  At one point when I was reading the book aloud I asked the kids if they’d like to hear the last three words.  It wouldn’t give anything away I assured them.  And so I did, and so I will here: “…heart wide open.”  If Camargo is equating sentimental with banal, then that it isn’t, but heart-wrenching, moving, and tender?  Yes, it is that as much as any of the other recent winners.

3. And it sure as hell is “a coming-of-age story.”  Can’t even say anything further other than yes it is.

4.  There’s a moral or two therein.  About families, about learning, about those last three words, “…heart wide open.”

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