Gaimanís spooky book wins Newbery

Neil Gaiman has received the top US prize for childrenís literature, The John Newbery Medal. "I am so wonderfully befuddled," the best-selling author said after winning the 88th annual Newbery for The Graveyard Book, a spooky, but (he says) family friendly story about a boy raised by a vampire, a werewolf and a witch.

"I never really thought of myself as a Newbery winner.

Itís such a very establishment kind of award, in the right kind of way, with the world of librarians pointing at the book saying, "This is worthy of the ages. And Iím so very used to working in, and enjoying working in, essentially the gutter."

The Newbery and other awards were announced by the American Library Association, meeting in Denver.

Other winners included Melina Marchettaís Jellicoe Road, given the Michael L Printz Award for young adult literature, and two Pura Belpre awards for Latino writing, best author to Margarita Engleís The Surrender Tree and best illustrator to Yuyi Morales for Just in Case. Gaiman, known for his Sandman comic-book series, had worked on the Graveyard Book off and on for more than 20 years, an understandable delay for the author of more than 20 books and the winner of prizes for science fiction, fantasy and horror. ó AP