Neil Gaiman is a rock star. It's true. He wears a leather jacket and everything, and he collaborates with Tori Amos. He writes novels, short stories, screen plays, picture books, graphic novels, and god knows what else. His hair is always picturesquely tousled .
So even though I didn't like the Newberry winner, The Graveyard Book as much as I liked some of his other work (particularly Coraline and Stardust, which are two of my favorite stories) I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It's particularly awesome to listen to it on audio since Gaiman records it himself, and of course, does an awesome job at it.
Right before the Newberry was announced this year, two people returned The Graveyard Book to our store on the basis that it was too dark. I also got one adult who came back angry that Coraline had given her nightmares. And Gaiman's work is dark. But for those readers that like imagining all the creepy crawlies in the dark, like a world wrought with impossible imagination and like stories that are always positively affirming, then Gaiman may be a fun place to start.
Though focused around a world of death, Gaiman managed to craft a book entirely about life. Consistently, throughout his entire body of work, Gaiman explores positive representations of death not as a morbid fascination, but as a way of reducing fear. And the Graveyard book is no exception.
also, check out his awesome interview with Stephen Colbert: http://www.hulu.com/watch/63035/the-colbert-report-neil-gaiman
Also, thanks to my older sister for introducing me to him in the first place. He was her favorite for years, and she used to read his work to me. We read his story, Chivalry (from the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors), on Christmas with our mom, and it's still one of my favorite family memories. I also used to steal her Sandman Chronicles when she wasn't home. Sorry, Mikka.