A look at children’s books

Now released as a graphic novel is the first volume of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book.”

This adaptation by P. Craig Russell with art by Kevin Nowlan, Russell, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson and Stephen B. Scott, focuses on chapter one through the interlude, with the second volume to pick up on chapter six to the end.

The story follows Nobody Owens, a young boy whose family is murdered, who escapes and ends up living in a graveyard with ghosts and a vampire as his family and guardians.

In several chapters of adventures, he makes friends with a young girl and together they challenge the Indigo Man, almost is forced to become a ghoul in an abandoned city, makes a headstone for a friend and dances with the woman in gray. Bod, as he is known, must hide in the graveyard, for those that murdered his family are still out there, waiting.

This is a good adaptation into the graphic novel format of the story and will interest older readers. The original book is recommended by publishers for ages 10 and up, and this book is recommended for ages 8 to 12 by publishers. However, I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up, as I can see how some scenes would be scary for those on the younger scale.

“The Graveyard Book” is published by Harper. It is $19.99.


A young boy wakes up in the fireplace of a crumbling castle in “The Castle Behind Thorns” by Merrie Haskell.

Sand wakes inside the Sundered Castle, a place everyone in the village ignores, but he has always been curious about, but doesn’t remember how he got there. He is sure there must be treasure inside and starts to go exploring. Having believed an earthquake must have destroyed the place, he soon finds evidence that this is not the case. Now Sand doesn’t know why he is there, but only knows that he doesn’t want to die inside the mysterious walls. Soon he learns he is not alone in these walls, a girl named Perrotte is also in there, who wasn’t alive before and now is. Together the two will learn the real secret behind the castle and about magic, forgiveness and friendship.

This is a magical mystery that would be great for pre-teens and young teens.

“The Castle Behind Thorns” is published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. It is for ages 8 to 12 and is $16.99.


A young teen finds he has a surprising ability in “The Eighth Day” by Dianne K. Salerni.

After turning 13, Jax wakes up to find no one around. Is it a zombie apocalypse? Alien abduction? Where did everyone go? The next day everything is back to normal. That’s when his legal guardian, Riley Pendare, an 18-year-old who was mysteriously granted guardianship by his father before he died, tells him that he is a Transitioner, and the day before was the Eighth Day – a secret 24 hours that only Transitioners can access. Jax’s father knew about this, but didn’t want Jax trained. But why? When Jax learns that the girl next door, Evangeline, only exists on the Eighth Day and is being hunted as a tool that could bring the end of the world, Jax wants to help his new friend. But in this new world, he doesn’t know who, if anyone, he can trust. A fun science-fiction action adventure story, this will appeal to many genre fans.

“The Eighth Day” is published by HarperCollins. It is $16.99 and is for ages 8 to 12.


A jinni and a princess change places in “The Fire Wish” by Amber Lough.

Zayele the princess is traveling on her way to marry a Baghdad prince, against her will. Najwa is a jinni who has been spying on the humans in an attempt to get the upper hand on them. Both distrust the other, but Zayele believes her way out lies in Najwa. Though they are at war, she captures Najwa and wishes for her to take her place and send her home. Unfortunately, jinni magic can be tricky, and Zayele and Najwa find themselves trading places and lives with each other. The two soon learn they must continue with the ruse or risk being killed – and will soon learn who they can trust, in their old lives and new ones.

Full of magic and romance, and cool female characters, this will appeal to young teens.

“The Fire Wish” is published by Random House. It is $17.99 and is for ages 12 and up.


A look at a teen living in 1963 wanting to investigate a shooting is told in “The Secrets of Tree Taylor” by Dandi Daley Mackall.

Thirteen-year-old Tree wants to write an article that will get her on the Blue & Gold newspaper staff as a freshman. She dreams of being a famous writer, and while the music of the Beatles plays along, she wants to write a great story over the summer and possibly get a real kiss. When a rifle shot goes off across the street, she doesn’t believe the neighbor shot was an accident. Does anyone in the neighborhood know the neighbors very well? Could the gun have gone off accidentally? Tree is determined to find out the truth about the “accident.” As the summer progresses, so does her investigation. And she will learn a lot about secrets. And might just get her kiss. This is an interesting look at life during the time period, all seen through the eyes of a curious young girl, framed around a mystery. “The Secrets of Tree Taylor” is published by Alfred A. Knopf. It is $16.99 and is for ages 12 and up.


Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com