Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Writer Gaiman scoops book prize

Neil Gaiman
Gaiman created the epic comic book series The Sandman

Novelist Neil Gaiman, who wrote Stardust and the screenplay for Beowulf, has won this year's Booktrust Teenage Prize with The Graveyard Book.

The story is about a child abandoned in a graveyard after his parents are murdered and is raised by ghosts.

Chair judge Judi James said his writing was "gentle, fluid and humorous".

Accepting his £2,500 prize, Gaiman said, he was "proud" of the book, which was inspired by Rudyard Kipling and Pamela P.L Travers.

"Sometimes when we look big, and seem to see further, it's because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

"The field of children's literature has seen many giants, and those of us who toil in the field make our contributions using what we've learned from those who came first," he said.

'Family and community'

In an interview on the Booktrust website, Gaiman said that some people questioned the graveyard setting of his novel.

"I try and explain that it's not a book about death; it's a book about life. Which is one really good reason for setting it in a graveyard.

"It's a book about family and community. It's about potential and the idea of potential," he said.

Gaiman, who is the creator of the epic comic book series The Sandman, beat five other authors, including last year's winner Patrick Ness.

Gaiman's novels have been adapted for a number of films, most recently the animated adventure Coraline.

He wrote the screenplay for Beowulf which starred Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone and his book Stardust was also adapted for the big screen, and starred Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Ms James said the panel's decision was unanimous.

"Gaiman's writing is gentle, fluid and humorous, and fundamentally uplifting," she said.

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