In this undated photo released by HarperCollins, Neil Gaiman, author of 'The Graveyard Book,' is shown. (AP Photo/Philippe Matas,HarperCollins) ** NO SALES ** - AP

The horror!

NEW YORK — Neil Gaiman has received the top prize for children's literature — The John Newbery Medal — for "The Graveyard Book," a spooky, but (he says) family-friendly story about a boy raised by a vampire, a werewolf and a witch.

Gaiman is a beloved writer for adults and children, but "The Graveyard Book" isn't the coziest read, at least at the beginning, with its image of a knife so sharp that "if it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately."

He says "The Graveyard Book" was inspired in part by "The Jungle Book," Rudyard Kipling's classic about a boy raised by animals. On Gaiman's blog, he writes that "The Graveyard Book" is not a children's book. It's "a book for pretty much for all ages, although I'm not sure how far down that actually starts. I think I would have loved it when I was eight, but I don't think that all 8-year-olds were like me."

"Apart from the first few pages, it doesn't exist to frighten people or trouble people," he said. "I've written my share of disturbing stuff, but this book is really a way of trying to think about the process of growing up, and, of course, the fundamentally joyous tragedy of being a parent, that if you do your job properly, your kids will grow up and leave you."

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