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Dance with Death: Theme in Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Chap. 5)

Dance with Death: Theme in Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Chap. 5)
Dance with Death: Theme in Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Chap. 5)
Dance with Death: Theme in Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Chap. 5)
Dance with Death: Theme in Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (Chap. 5)
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What do The Graveyard Book and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" have in common? This and other questions will be answered as students explore the Danse Macabre in this lesson.

The nature of death is a central theme in The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. When he created his chapter on the Danse Macabre, what did the author want us to think about death? What does the Macabray have in common with the 14th Century Danse Macabre? What about Mexico's Dia de los Muertos (The Day of The Dead)? How are they different? This lesson leads students through a major theme of the book, and of cultures around the world.

This lesson could be adapted for use in grades 6-12. If students have access to computers, the webquest activity can be assigned as homework or completed in class. For younger students, or those without individual computers, the lesson could be led by a teacher using an internet projector. Much of the material here could be adapted for a discussion of theme that does not rely on computer access.

It is not necessary to have a take-home copy of the book to complete the written exercises. An answer key is provided so the discussion could be led by a substitute teacher, if necessary.

In the Common Core standards for ELA, this activity strongly fits with the "Key Ideas and Details" standard and "Integration of Knowledge and Ideas":
Reading: Literature - Key Ideas and Details
Grade 6 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details.
Grade 7 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text.
Grade 8 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot.
Grades 9 / 10 - Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details.

Reading Literature - Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Grade 6 - Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics.
Grade 7 - Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
Grade 8 - Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new.
Grades 9 / 10 - Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

by Sara Hathaway
Mood in The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (Chap. 1) by Sara Hathaway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Total Pages
8 pages
Answer Key
N/A
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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