The Graveyard Book (Due 4/19/12)

The Graveyard Book was truly a unique reading experience.  I must admit, I picked it up once, read for a few days and put it down.  I had quite a lot going on, and I knew that in order to really understand what was going on in the plot, I’d need to take the time to focus a little more clearly.  This past weekend I had to opportunity to finish The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  The story is centered on a young boy, Bod, “Nobody” Owens who was missing from his crib the night that his entire family was murdered by the man Jack.  Bod is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Owens in the graveyard and Bod learns about life from multiple non-living souls.  He takes his academic lessons from these non-living souls.  He has a care-taker or a guardian named Silas.  Silas guides Bod in the life of a ghost, providing him with the tools to which he needs to live life without traditional parents.  Eventually Bod gets curious about the “outside” world and tries his hand at being a “regular” kid.  He has trouble handling bullies and other students’ questions about where he was from and who his parents were.  In addition to dealing with issues of being an abnormal child in a “normal” society, Bod is in danger of being found by the man Jack.  In transition of coming back to the graveyard Bod learns of Scarlett, a friend from the past who Bod feels he can be himself with.  Unfortunately, Scarlett is used by the man Jack who pretends to be Mr. Frost, offering missing pieces to Bod’s family’s murder.  Bod and Scarlett escape death by tricking the man Jack to be taken away.  However, Bod loses his friend Scarlett, Silas taking away her memories of what happened with Bod.  Bod decides at the end that he wants to try living in the outside world on his own, and is released from the graveyard by Silas and his parents to travel on his own. 

After finishing The Graveyard Book, I felt somewhat confused.  I had a bit of a hard time keeping track of one chapter to the next.  I tried to keep the flow of the story, and was able to understand a couple of themes.  One theme that I picked up on was finding oneself.  Bod tries to find out who he is and where he is from in the entire story, and finally, at the end begins what he calls “life” as he leaves the graveyard to embark on journeys as a mortal human.  As I read, I got lost sometimes in the names of the dead in the graveyard and their roles in Bod’s life.  I knew of Bod and Silas’ relationship the best, because they engaged in multiple instances of dialogue throughout the story.   Bod and Scarlett had a special relationship because Scarlett was the only mortal who seemed to “get” Bod when others did not.  She showed interest in him when he was known as the “weird” kid in school.  She had a special place for Bod in her heart.

I imagine if I brought this book into my classroom, I’d use Neil Gaiman’s read aloud from his website:  However, I think I might introduce this story to my students and let them take this one and run with it.  I had such a hard time connecting to the story that I would guide them the best that I could, but the scary, gory parts might be better served through students’ personal reading than my descriptions.  If, in fact I had some students who were interested in The Graveyard Book, I would use Scholastic’s learning tool: Book Wizard.  When using Book Wizard I found a few texts that were two grade below The Graveyard Book:

Circle of Secrets

by Kimberley Griffiths Little


The Orphan of Ellis Island

by Elvira Woodruff


Dunc And The Haunted Castle

( Culpepper Adventures )

by Gary Paulsen (A personal favorite!)

 Renee Hennings 4/18/12

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