It takes a graveyard to raise a child. This is a summary of this magical, sweet and imaginative story for children, which (in a good tradition of the Brothers Grimm) started with a triple homicide. “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”Neil Gaiman does not waste time with unicorns and princesses and butterflies which are often considered acceptable for children. He kicks off his book with the brutal murders of a child's entire family, written in a chilling tone that made me quickly turn all the lights on in my bedroom. Nobody Owens (named so because "he looks like nobody but himself"), or simply Bod, is the sole survivor of the aforementioned triple homicide, who is, in The Jungle Book style, promptly adopted by a sweet ghost couple in the graveyard inhabited by an afterlife community. He even gets a vampire as his guardian and mentor - “There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.” Given the Privilege of the Graveyard and taught how to Fade into the background, Bod spends his entire childhood playing among graves, learning his letters from the gravestones, running into trouble with some ghouls, being tutored by a werewolf with a taste for Eastern European food, dancing with Death, and making friends with the ghost of a young witch burned at stake. He does crave human company though, and in addition to becoming an "imaginary friend" of a little girl also does a brief stint as a non-so-ordinary student at a school. All this while the evil that tried to murder him in the first place is still searching for him.Neil Gaiman has a real knack for the imaginative combination of sweet and creepy elements together with the bittersweet ending, creating a unique and unforgettable story which appeals both to children and adults. Told via a succession of interludes from Bod's unusual life, the story could have been overly sugary or overly morbid, but Gaiman easily avoids either extreme. This story has just the right mix of sweetness, whimsy, sadness, suspense, and adventures to keep the reader captivated throughout. Bod said, 'I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want,' he said, and then he paused and he thought. 'I want everything.'Seeing the world depicted through the eyes of a quiet graveyard-raised but very human boy colors the story with almost Bradbury-esque feeling of nostalgia for the fleeting magic of childhood. We see the inevitable process of growing up, finding one's self, and letting go of the comforts of childhood home written poignantly and sweetly, and yet without overkill.“You're alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone. Over. You've made what you've made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.” Bod is a great character for a children's story. He is smart and resourceful, quiet and observant, loyal and brave, somewhat mischievous, and ultimately very life-like. His demeanor reminds me of my awesome younger brother, actually. Watching him grow up from a sweet child into what seems to be an actual good adult is a pleasure. “You're brave. You are the bravest person I know, and you are my friend. I don't care if you are imaginary.” This story, even though wonderfully complete, still reads almost like a tease at times. Gaiman gives us a delightful and lyrical glimpse into the world which I would love to get to know better. He creates such rich captivating characters that even after the book is over I am left longing for more. I would love to read a whole another book dedicated to Silas or Miss Lupescu or Lizzy the witch. (Mr. Gaiman, if you ever run out of other book ideas... just sayin'!)-------------------------------------------------------------------------5 stars and a well-earned spot on my "for my future (hypothetical) daughter" reading shelf. "There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion. But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open."