Graveyard Book (Gaiman)

Discussion Questions
1. From the opening lines, Gaiman hooks readers with a distinct narrative voice and a vivid setting. Discuss how both of these elements serve the story.

2. There is a rich tradition of orphans in children’s literature as well as a tradition of child-of-destiny themes in fantasy literature. Discuss how Bod fits squarely into both categories.

3. The graveyard is populated with characters we typically think of as evil. How does Gaiman play with this idea, particularly in the characters of Silas, Miss Lupescu, and Eliza Hempstock? What do these characterizations suggest about human nature?

4. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are frequent collaborators. How do the illustrations contribute to your reading of The Graveyard Book?

5. If you are familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, discuss how The Graveyard Book is reminiscent of Kipling’s classic tale. How does a familiarity with The Jungle Book enhance the reading of The Graveyard Book?

6. At the close of the novel, Mrs. Owens sings about embracing the human experience: “Face your life / Its pain, its pleasure, / Leave no path untaken” (p. 306). How does this theme resonate throughout the novel?

7. “A graveyard is not normally a democracy, and yet death is the great democracy” (p. 29). How is death the great democracy? How does Gaiman explore the relationship between the dead and the living?

8. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. How does this graveyard come together to raise this particular child? Describe the special mentoring relationships that Bod has with Silas and Miss Lupescu.

9. Boundaries—between the living and the dead, between the graveyard and the world—are an important part of the novel. How does Bod test these boundaries? What are the consequences of Bod’s actions?

10. Bod’s human interactions are limited to a short-lived friendship with Scarlett and a brief stint at school. Discuss how these experiences change Bod. How do our friendships and associations with others affect us?

11. What do you think of the advice that Bod receives from Nehemiah Trot, the dead poet: “Do not take revenge in the heat of the moment. Instead, wait until the hour is propitious” (p. 233)?

12. How does The Graveyard Book compare to Gaiman’s first novel for young readers, Coraline? Much of Coraline’s success can be attributed to its strong and diverse following. What are some of the characteristics of Gaiman’s writing that make it appealing to young and old alike?

13. Like much of Gaiman’s work, The Graveyard Book manages to fuse elements of humor, horror, fantasy, and mystery into a single story. Identify examples of these elements and discuss how they work together. How might the story read differently if one or more of these elements were removed?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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