a graveyard

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The cover for the award winning novel THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, published in 2008, is a children’s fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK won the 2009 Hugo Award. Disney is planning a movie based on the novel.

“I want to be like you,” said Bod, pushing out his lower lip.


Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.

Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead?


The Graveyard Book is used as an example in the following posts. Check them out!

Past vs Present TenseA comparison of past vs present tense including modern fiction examples. Which is right for your novel?
Past TenseWriting a story in past tense is most common in genre fiction. Learn about 5 times to choose past tense.
Comparison of Point of ViewA comparison of point of view in literature (first, third limited, and omniscient) including modern fiction examples. Which is right for your novel?
Omniscient Point of ViewOmniscient point of view is all knowing. Learn 5 times to use it in your story.
Guide to PlotLearn the 5 key plot points of every story.
the ClimaxThese 4 elements will make your climax unforgettable!
the MentorLearn the 8 mentor qualities & see modern fiction examples.


I love this book. Everyone should read it. Go! Read it now!

Bod is an adorable character and his life in the graveyard has a strange realism to it. That’s all I’m going to say. READ THE GRAVEYARD BOOK!

But that’s just my opinion, what do others think?

The Graveyard Book is one of the most emotionally honest books I’ve yet to have read this year.

– School Library Journal

Odd, strange, dark: all words that can be safely used to describe this book. But also: beautiful, funny and clever.

– The Book Smugglers

The good news is that this book is essentially perfect.

– Emma Reads Too Much
a typewriter

Writing Practice

Check out these writing exercises and prompts inspired by THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

Prompt: The Opening Paragraph(s)

This is the opening paragraph of the novel. Ignore everything you know about the story and use it as a writing prompt.

Your Task: Using as much detail as possible, write another 300+ words.

CHAPTER ONE: How Nobody Came to the Graveyard

THERE WAS A HAND IN the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

Exercise: Verb List

I found this book to be adorable. The verb usage in the book is excellent. So, this exercise is all about verbs.

The book is written in the past tense, but not all the verbs are in the past tense.

*This exercise can be done at the same time as Exercise #2*

Your Task: Choose a chapter and make a list of NON-past tense verbs. Include what tense they are, and why you think they aren’t past tense.

Need Help?

Here’s the first paragraphs of Chapter 4. (I made note of all the verbs, for demonstrative purposes. You only have to do ones that aren’t in the past tense).

THERE WAS A WITCH buried at the edge of the graveyard, it was common knowledge. Bod had been told to keep away from that corner of the world by Mrs. Owens as far back as he could remember.
“Why?” he asked.
“T’aint healthy for a living body,” said Mrs. Owens. “There’s damp down that end of things. It’s practically a marsh. You’ll catch your death.”

wasPast (simple) 
buriedPast (simple) 
had been toldPast (perfect) 
could rememberPast (modal) 
askedPast (simple) 
’aint (is not)Present (simple)Part of dialogue
saidPast (simple) 
’s (is)Present (simple)Part of dialogue
’s (is)Present (simple)Part of dialogue
‘ll (will) willFuture (modal)Part of dialogue

Exercise: Find Proof

*This exercise can be done with exercise #1*

Your Task: Find examples (at least 5) that prove the narrator is omniscient.

Think about it:
– Would the story be complete without the examples you found?
– Why were they added?
– How could the story be rewritten into third limited?

a graveyard with a couple of ghosts


GenreScience Fiction & Fantasy (Children’s)
First Published
September 18, 2008
Print Length
(according to amazon)
326 pages
File Size
(according to amazon)
1,745 KB
Goodreads Rating
(As of Feb 2019)
Goodreads rating for the novel The Graveyard Book
Amazon Rating
(As of Feb 2019)
Amazon customer rating for the novel The Graveyard Book
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Pin This: Book Review & Analysis of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

Have you read THE WINDUP GIRL?

If so, what did you think? If not, will you?

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PS. share your exercises in the comments below. I’d love to see them.


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