Newbery Medal goes to Gaiman

by Lara Killian

3 February 2009


The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA) has announced the 2009 winner of the
prestigious Newbery Medal book award. Neil Gaiman’s touted volume for children, The Graveyard Book has taken the award this year, much to the author’s surprise.


Illustrated by Dave McKean, the book is intended for all ages, though the award is generally meant for children’s books. Gaiman commented that he was “befuddled” by his win; though he is a well-known author his fiction does not appeal universally. Gaiman also remarked that The Graveyard Book developed in his head over 25 years or so, until he felt ready to write this story, about a boy who is brought up in a cemetery and raised by ghosts, “‘a lot like The Jungle Book and set [...] in a graveyard.’”

The Associated Press reports Gaiman’s comments:


I never really thought of myself as a Newbery winner. It’s such a very establishment kind of award, in the right kind of way, with the world of librarians pointing at the book saying, ‘This is worthy of the ages.’ And I’m so very used to working in, and enjoying working in, essentially the gutter.

Recognized as a top award for children’s literature, Newbery Medal winning books are often to be found in school and public libraries. This year, runner’s up included The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, Savvy by Ingrid Law, and After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson.

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