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Neil Gaiman Wins 2009 Newbery Medal

January 26, 2009
by Isabel Cowles
Neil Gaiman first won acclaim with his comic books and graphic novels. But he always wanted to be a novelist, and he has gone on to produce bestsellers. Now, his latest work, “The Graveyard Book,” has won the 2009 Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s publishing.

Neil Gaiman, Newbery Winner, 2009

Early on the morning of January 26, Neil Gaiman, comic book writer, screenwriter and novelist, was informed that he had won the 2009 American Library Association Newbery Medal, awarded to the year’s most distinguished children’s book.

Gaiman’s winning novel is “The Graveyard Book,” illustrated by longtime collaborator Dave McKean, who has worked on many of Gaiman’s comic books and novels.

Gaiman, apparently, is not an early riser. In his personal blog, he described being contacted at 5:45 am PST by the chair of the Newbery committee: “I thought, I may be still asleep right now… I checked the hotel room because it seemed very likely that I was still fast asleep. It all looked reassuringly solid.”

From Bestselling Comics to Bestselling Children’s Books

In 1986, after a brief career as a freelance journalist, Gaiman began writing for DC Comics. His 75-issue series “Sandman,” about Morpheus, the King of Dreams, drew considerable acclaim and attracted a considerable female readership, which was somewhat unusual at the time.

The dark fantasy series won a multitude of prizes, including the World Fantasy Award (“Sandman” was the first comic book ever given the prize) and nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, four of which were for best writer.

During this period Gaiman collaborated with acclaimed fantasy writer Terry Pratchett on the novel “Good Omens,” which was released in 1990. In 1996, Gaiman wrote a BBC miniseries, “Neverwhere,” which he later turned into a novel. Later novels include “American Gods,” which hit number one on The New York Times bestseller list and “Anansi Boys.”

The multitalented author published his first children’s picture book in 1998; “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish” was named one of the best books of the year by Newsweek. He followed that with a second picture book, 2003’s “The Wolves in the Walls.”

Gaiman has also made his presence known in Hollywood. Gaiman’s graphic novel-turned-book, “Stardust,” was made into a film in 2007. In addition, he wrote screenplays for 2005’s Jim Henson Company movie “Mirrormask” and the 2007 film “Beowulf,” although neither of those was terribly well received. The animated film adaptation of his YA novel “Coraline” is due out in February 2009 and will be directed by Henry Selick, of “Nightmare Before Christmas” fame.

As his body of work continues to grow, so has Gaiman’s fame: he is considered by many to be the rock star of the literary world, an image accentuated by his unkempt hair and black leather jacket. To keep fans engaged, Gaiman maintains an extensively updated blog and answers questions from his readers on a daily basis.

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