Yesterday, I blogged about Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book hitting number one on the New York Times young adult list. Neil read the entire book aloud, a chapter at a time, on his book tour, and uploaded a nightly video, so that when it was done, his reading of the whole book could be viewed for free as a series of video streams.
Coincidentally, I also finished listening to the HarperCollins audio edition of Neil reading The Graveyard Book yesterday, and was overwhelmed with delight at what a wonderful, magical, sweet story this is when it's all done. The Graveyard Book retells the Jungle Book, but instead of an orphan boy lost in the jungle, raised and tormented by animals, the Graveyard Book's orphan, Bod, is orphaned by a serial killer and raised in the graveyard by ghosts (thousands of years' worth — from pre-Roman to Victorian).
Like the Jungle Book, the Graveyard Book's story takes the form of a series of loosely linked scenarios describing the childhood and coming of age of the orphan boy, in which his mischief and adventures teach him about the world he lives in and what his place in it must be. It's filled with compassion, mystery, wonder, humor (lots and lots and lots of humor), mythology, and a rich, dark, velvety spookiness that makes it especially lovely when read aloud.
Gaiman's reading is, of course, superb. He's part of a very small group of writers who really bring their work to life when they read it aloud (you can hear this for yourself in the videos from the tour). The spooky hurdy-gurdy music on the chapter breaks is also a nice flourish. This is fine work, from beginning to end, and the best bedtime story read-aloud material I've encountered in a long time. Can't wait until my daughter's old enough to read this to.