The Graveyard Book

By: 

Neil Gaiman

Number of Pages: 

307

Minimum grade level: 

5th

A baby, a bloody knife, a graveyard and a man named Jack.

There once was a man called Jack. His mission: to kill an entire family. He was successful. Well almost. One very important family member got away. The most important one, who had just learned to walk, the baby.

That baby toddled himself up the hill to a graveyard where he was taken in by a lovely ghost couple: the Owens. His guardian, Silas, could walk among the living and the dead and protect the baby from harm, but only if the baby remained within the walls of the graveyard. They named the child Nobody. He was raised in the graveyard and trained in many of the necessities: haunting and fading and dream walking. He learned to read and recite poetry and even made a friend among the living who would never remember him. There were, of course, some not-so-pleasant things to learn about as well, such as the Sleer and the Ghouls and the unearthly things that could be released from the ghoul-gates.

Nobody loved his graveyard, but as he got older he longed to go to school and to meet children who were alive, not long dead like his friends at home. Nothing prepared him for what lay outside the graveyard, things that his Guardian could not protect him from.

Jack is still out there, closer than anyone can imagine, and he will stop at nothing to complete his task – to kill Nobody Owens.

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Does this book remind you of Coraline? If so, what are some of the similar elements?
  2. How do the various members of the graveyard contribute to Nobody's upbringing?
  3. How do Nobody's relationships with people who are alive affect his outlook on life?
  4. If you could learn to fade or to dreamwalk, which would you choose and why?
  5. What does Gaiman mean by "...death is the great democracy?" (pg. 29)
  6. If you are familiar with The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, compare it to The Graveyard Book.
  7. If you were Scarlett, would you rather remember your experiences with Bod, or forget them?
  8. What is the importance of Liza Hempstock in Bod's upbringing?

If you liked this book, try

  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • The Jungle book by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney

Activities

Write your own epithet, make rubbings in charcoal or crayon.

Snacks

Pizza (if it's appropriate), chocolates, or apples