The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman is a good example of how to write a chapter book. While each chapter stands on its own, small things get repeated, binding the book into a satisfying whole. In a wonderfully understated opening, we follow “the man Jack” tracking down the last surviving member of a family he has murdered.
The book is about that survivor, of course, who escapes to a nearby graveyard, where he becomes Nobody Owens. In successive chapters, we watch Bod grow up. Years elapse between each one. Bit by bit, we learn more about the men Jack and the the denizens of the graveyard. Finally, Bod discovers who he really is. By then, much like The Jungle Book, he also understands that he can’t stay in the world of his childhood any longer. He sets out to see the world of men.
So it’s a book about growing up in a world populated by curious and dark characters. Even in a world of ghosts, witches, and tombs, a precious tweeness creeps in around the edges. Fortunately, the moody illustrations by Dave McKean drive it away, leaving us a world that acknowledges the dark times of being a child.