“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” —Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book (2008).
Henry Selick, the director of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), will direct The Graveyard Book as a stop-motion picture. He also used stop-motion animation for the film adaptation of Coraline (2009), a young adult novel written by Gaiman and illustrated by McKean and originally published in 2002.
Much like Coraline, The Graveyard Book is a different take on the young adult novel, with dark twists that, at first, may not seem suitable for children. The central character is a young boy named Bod (“Nobody Owens”) who’s the sole living resident of a graveyard. When Bod is a toddler, his family is murdered by “the man Jack.” Bod himself, having escaped from his crib, is exploring beyond his home while the murders are taking place. Eventually, he finds himself in the graveyard, where he’s taken in by ghosts, who raise and educate him into his adulthood. Each chapter of The Graveyard Book operates in a similar way to a short story and serves as two years of Bod’s life.
The Graveyard Book began to gestate in Gaiman’s mind when his son, Michael, was a child. At the time, Gaiman and his family lived in a home without a yard, so he would take his son to a graveyard close by to ride his tricycle. “I remember thinking once how incredibly at home he looked there,” Gaiman recalled. He initially thought he could write something much like Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894) but in a graveyard setting. At the time, however, he didn’t deem himself a good enough writer to achieve popular success with his idea. It took Gaiman nearly two decades for his idea to be fully realized.