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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Like many Neil Gaiman readers, I was introduced to him through his epic comic book series Sandman. He won over my sinister little 15-year-old heart when I read "The Sound of Her Wings" (issue #8 of Sandman), because it featured Death as a young, cheery girl who wore all black and the occasional top hat. Also, her little brother, Dream, came to her for advice. Too cool.

Gaiman has since worked his storytelling magic with books aimed at young readers, including the bestselling Coraline. His new children's book, The Graveyard Book, is similar to Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, except the child -- Nobody Owens, or Bod for short -- is adopted by dead people instead of animals. In his home-sweet-cemetery, Bod grows up and meets many intriguing characters of the dead, living, and in-between persuasion. I don't want to give too much away, but I promise: mischief, adventures, thrills, and chills ensue.

Bod's tale may sound dark and macabre, but it is also charming and hopeful. Take it from someone who once hung a huge poster of Death on her dorm room wall -- like Sandman, The Graveyard Book will stick with you long after you've finished it.