It was announced this morning that Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book has won the 2009 Newbery Medal. The Newbery, along with the Caldecott Medal for picture books, represent the pinnacle of achievement in children’s literature in the United States. It is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association, and is an astounding accomplishment for any writer. Past winners include Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, and many other much-beloved classics.
The Graveyard Book follows the adventures of Nobody Owens, adopted as an infant by the inhabitants of a local cemetery after his family is mysteriously murdered. The novel follows Bod as he grows and matures under the tutelage of the graveyard folk, learning to navigate increasingly complex relationships with both the living and the dead until he eventually comes to face his dark past and find his place in the world (you can find the full review here).
Gaiman, who is currently on a press junket for the upcoming Coraline movie, has responded to the award announcement with shock and delight on his blog and via his Twitter feed. 2009 is shaping up to be a banner year for Gaiman and his fans: besides the huge buzz that Coraline is receiving, his much-anticipated two part Batman “event” (“Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”) will be released on February 11th; Blueberry Girl, a new collaboration with the amazing Charles Vess, comes out in March; and then, of course, he’s the Guest of Honour at this year’s WorldCon (along with Tor’s own Tom Doherty and David Hartwell). We’ll be trying to track as much of this frenetic activity as possible (appearances, releases, etc.) on our Events Calendar throughout the year, but in the meantime, our warmest congratulations on the Newbery—the award is extremely well-deserved, and we have a feeling it won’t be the last for young Nobody Owens.