The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, a favorite of mine, was recently discovered by many new readers around Halloween. The story is that of Nobody Owens, called Bod by his friends and adopted family. Bod is a normal boy, almost. He would much more normal if he did not live in a graveyard. He spends his time being raised and educated by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither world. Danger, adventure and discoveries abound in the graveyard for a boy, but like everyone, he wants something more. However, if Bod leaves the graveyard he will come under attack from the man Jack, the man who killed Bod’s family. If you have not experienced the joy of this book, I suggest doing so now. The story is amazing, and I suggest reading the book and listening to Neil read it to you via audio book or pod cast. The storyteller and story are magical and enthralling. Now if you already know and love The Graveyard Book then here are some books that I suggest of similar quality and enjoy ability.
A House Called Awful End, the first book from the Eddie Dickens Trilogy, by Philip Ardagh was written in installments as entertainment for Ardagh’s nephew who was away from home at boarding school. Rather than boring letters about home, he sent off episodes of the silly adventure story to entertain. There was no place initially to turn the tale into books, but I am certainly glad they did. The story follows young Eddie Dickens who is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle because his parents have come down with a strange illness. Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud host their displaced nephew, and are as crazy as their names imply. A silly and highly entertaining comedy of errors quickly begins. A House Called Awful End is a laugh out loud historical spoof, which has been compared to a merging of Dickens and Monty Python.
Castaways of The Flying Dutchman by Brian Jacques is not what most would expect from the author, in light of the Redwall series, which he is well known for, despite it being one of his original adventures. The legend of the Flying Dutchman as a ghost ship with a mad sea Captain, cursed to sail forever, is familiar to most people. However, the legend never tells the fate of the young boy and dog that were trapped aboard that ship. Brian Jacques tells their story. The pair of castaways has a journey of their own. They face terrible wind and waves to arrive at strange shores, and explore unexpected places and times. The village of Chapelvale is their first destination, a Victorian town under attack. Ben and Ned, his dog, strive to help the townspeople figure out the clues and riddles hidden in homes and wells in order to save the village and all of its inhabitants.
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner weaves together elements of fantasy and facts. The book is the suspenseful tale of Coriander Hobie and her remarkable childhood. Her mother dies and then her father needs to leave London, leaving Coriander with her cruel stepmother. Somehow, she manages to send herself to the world of fairies. In that world she discovers that her belief that her mother was from somewhere much more magical that London. Coriander in turn has some magic in her as well and needs to harness and master the abilities that her heritage gives her. The storytelling is as magical as the story and enthralls the reader completely.
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy is a book named for the main character. Skulduggery Pleasant is a detective with a sharp tongue, snazzy wardrobe, magic, and a fire-throwing skeleton. He also happens to be the ally, protector, and mentor to Stephanie Edgley who is an unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old. It is up to Skulduggery and Stephanie to defeat an ancient evil. From the instant Skulduggery arrives on the scene the action really heats up and continues to fly relentlessly through the book. Dialog between the major characters entertains with sarcasm and dry wit. Some plot elements seem to be a little gratuitous, and there are a few discontinuities, however the book sets a grand stage for future installments. As of September 2010, there are five books in the series, with the promise of four more.
The Bad Beginning: Or, Orphans! (and the entire Series of Unfortunate Events series) by Lemony Snicket tells the unhappy story of three very unlucky children. The Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misfortune; they might even be described as magnets for woe. InThe Bad Beginningthe three children encounter the horrors of itchy clothes, a villainous relative that is greedy and repulsive, a destructive fire, and cold breakfast. When they are told their parents have died in a fire, which also destroyed their home and possessions, they find that they are going to be cared for by the nearest relative. Unfortunately, their uncle is Count Olaf, who hatches several schemes to gain control of the family fortune. In The Bad Beginning, and rest of the series, is an entertaining blend of darkness and humor.
Other suggestions include Beyond The Deepwoods by Chris Riddell, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Terrible Times by Philip Ardagh, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean, A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, and Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng.