Ghosts and book stickers
My current spooky phase has led me to this wonderful book. If I had read this when I was a kid it could well be one of my favourites ever, but as it is, the shine is slightly taken off because I am a boring adult who thinks about clean socks and vegetables.
It begins with a toddler escaping the brutal murder of his family, and finding sanctuary in a graveyard. After some discussion he is adopted by a couple, Mr and Mrs Owens, who never had children, and named ‘Nobody’ (nicknamed ‘Bod’) by them. The graveyard has a guardian called Silas, who gets food for the boy, and as he has ‘freedom of the graveyard’, he can magically wander in and out of tombs and talk to everyone from ancient barrow dwellers, to a witch in the unconsecrated ground section over the wall, to a romantic poet, a Victorian school teacher, and everyone in between.
Each chapter is a self-contained adventure, all overshadowed by what happen to his parents and the final culmination of Bod getting justice is wonderful, but for most of the book I was worried about if he was warm enough. For the ten years or so of his life he is dressed in just a sheet, and it’s not until he is allowed to go to school he has some clothes, but still, regular haircuts, toenail cutting, vaccinations, all the things parents have to think about, none of that happens. I wish I could switch off my logical parent mode and just enjoy how cool it would be a be a child who could run about different realms and have ghosts for mates. I also had a slight issue as I’m of an age where the name Bod means a person with remarkable hip mobility but no knees.
There is a quote on the cover that says The best book Neil Gaiman has ever written from Diana Wynne Jones, who wrote ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, and is absolutely the kind of thing that is allowed on a cover, especially as I agree with her. Below is a great cartoon I saw in the Guardian about book stickers, and what they should be!