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Literature / Graveyard School

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Graveyard School is a 28 book series of children's horror novels written by Nola Thacker under the pen name Tom B. Stone.

One of many kids' horror series published in the wake of the growing popularity of the Goosebumps books, the Graveyard School series actually subverted some of the more common elements found in Goosebumps.

The series takes place in the small town of Grove Hill, where sixth graders deal with daily horrors out of Grove Hill Elementary School, not-so-affectionately dubbed Graveyard School due to the abandoned graveyard located right behind the school. Only the kids seem aware of the nightmarish effects the graveyard and the school seems to have on the town, while their parents and older siblings are either blissfully unaware or in denial.

The school's staff includes the intimidating Dr. Morthouse, school principal and purported to have a silver fang in her mouth which the students can only catch glimpses of. There is also the overly saccharine Vice Principal Mr. Hannibal Lucre, the perpetually growling secretary Mr. Kinderbane, and the mysterious and elusive custodian Mr. Bartholomew, a.k.a. Basement Bart, alongside a rotating cast of teachers, some weird, some normal, and some evil.


Unlike the Goosebumps books, the series focuses on one main cast of characters starting from Don't Eat The Mystery Meat! and does include transfer students moving to Grove Hill as the school year progresses. Likewise, these characters fluctuate from main to supporting to background character from book to book, and there is no specific star of the series. A definitive trait shared by these kids is that, while they may have some annoying younger or older siblings and may deal with bullies from time to time, none of them reach the levels of Straw Loser and Butt-Monkey as the protagonists of the Goosebumps books do.

A definitive answer is never given to what the actual cause of the Graveyard School hauntings are, nor is there a given background on the school principal and whether she is the cause of the horror or a by-product of it.


Recaps of the books' storylines can be found there; the books themselves can be borrowed at Internet Archive.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Jaws' kidnapping and all its pedophilic overtones in Don't Eat The Mystery Meat!
    • Appears in The Fright Before Christmas. Christopher Hampton is shown a vision of his parents discussing their worries over his miserly tendencies and dislike of Christmas. While they do agree with his views on how grossly commercialized the holiday season has become, they voice concern that his unhappiness is far deeper rooted beyond hating Christmas and are more focused on trying to figure out why he is so unhappy and how they can help him.
  • Adults Are Useless: Would it be a kid's horror series if they weren't?
  • Alpha Bitch: Polly Hannah, notable for being an unlikable Alpha Bitch and one of the few reoccurring characters to never be a starring protagonist. In fact, if Let's Scare The Teacher To Death! is anything to go by, even the teachers think she's nauseating.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Vampire Park.
  • And I Must Scream: Boys of Stone, about an old man capable of turning people to stone by touching them. The ending reveals he can undo the process at will and his victims are only vaguely aware of their surroundings while petrified.
  • Ax-Crazy: Ms. Stoker, to the point she kidnaps Jaws and later tries to run down Park, Stacey, and Jaws with her car when they try to escape.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Spider Beside Her and the short tale Don't Open The Door!
  • Big Eater: Jaws Bennett, rumored to be able to eat anything, even roadkill.
  • The Big Guy: Jaws and Jason Dunbarr share this status. Jaws is a benevolent example, Jason isn't.
  • Body Swap: April Ghoul's Day where Maria Medina collides with Dr. Morthouse and the two switch bodies. It actually takes a while for them to realize they've swapped.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Never stated explicitly, but can be read as subtext between Park and Morton in Don't Tell Mummy.
  • The Bully:
    • Jason Dunbarr is Graveyard School's resident bully, though after The Headless Bicycle Rider he deflates to a typical asshole.
    • Eddie Hoover's got it out for Skate McGraw and Vickie Wheilson, to the point he once pushed Vickie into the path of several small kids when she was trying to out-race him. After Skate saves Eddie from Ben Marrow, he stops antagonizing Skate and Vickie but still picks on other kids.
    • Jean Paul and Larry, the veteran campers from Scream Around The Campfire enjoy harassing poor newcomer Garth every chance they get. Alex is vocally disgusted by them and frequently makes snide comments about their petty behavior to their faces before telling Garth to stick with him. Tellingly, Jean Paul and Larry never really retaliate against Alex even though he's roughly their size, except for the hook prank near the end.
  • Butt-Monkey: While most of the kids avoid the levels of Butt-Monkey found in Goosebumps, Polly Hannah is a more typical version due to what a spoiled and haughty brat she is.
  • Cats Are Mean: Aunt Mab's companion Natasha.
  • Christmas Episode: The Fright Before Christmas and Here Comes Santa Claws.
  • Companion Cube: Skate McGraw both loves and respects his skateboard.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Ari Spinner. It's never stated what happened to her parents, or how she managed to live on her own for so long.
  • Cool Old Lady: Algie's Great Aunt Marie from The Gator Ate Her gives tours of Howling Swamp and is vocal about treating animals with respect.
  • Cool Teacher: Ms. King, the substitute in Creature Teacher.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Ms. Stoker the lunch lady in the first book, whose dishes are made from stolen pets.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Dolarman from Row Your Boat, and George Quayle from Slime Lake.
  • Creepy Child: Ari Spinner, Dolores, and the kids in Mrs. Storch's homeroom except for Blue and Tim. Although the kids in Mrs. Storch's class are actually pretty nice beyond their monster exteriors.
  • Dead All Along: In "The Headless Bicycle Rider" it's revealed that Kirstin Bjorg was the titular ghost al along.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While all of the kids can dish out the snark to various degrees, the snarkiest would have to be Jordie Flanders and Morton.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Dead Sox and The Skeleton On The Skateboard.
  • Dem Bones: The Skeleton on the skateboard, and its brother.
    • There's also the short story Mr. Bones, One More Step Faster, and Homebones.
  • Dirty Coward: Howard, a.k.a. "Howard the Coward" of Boys of Stone became the leader of the bullies by adeptly sensing the weakness in others because he's weak himself.
  • Disguised in Drag: Ms. Cheevy, a.k.a. Mr. Chalmers, was a government operative who had to go into hiding when his cover was blown.
  • The Dreaded: Dr. Morthouse, the sheer mention of who can cause the younger students to burst into tears. To a lesser degree, Basement Bart.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first ten books often ended with the reveal that the kids were more connected to the strangeness of Gravyeard School than one would assume at first glance. Kirstin Bjork's the Headless Bicycle Rider, Skip comes from a family of werewolves (but it skipped him over), Marc and Terri's uncle protects the Slime Lake monster, and Jeep's family works for an agency that monitors vampire activity with Jeep himself a junior agent.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Not even Polly Hannah likes Mrs. Beak, or at the very least, couldn't believe she just said she did.
  • Evil Twin:
    • Marc Foster is still trying to figure out if he or his sister Terri is the evil twin.
    • The plot of the story Twins involves brothers who were separated when they were very little, with one of them being spoiled mercilessly by his wicked parents and becoming a horrible tyrant when he grew up.
  • Evil Aunt: Kyle Chilton's Aunt Mab, though this is subverted. Mab's magical hijinks are not unprovoked.
  • Fair Folk: Invoked with Kyle's Aunt Mab. Mab is sometimes referred to as the Fairy Queen in Shakespearean lore.
  • Fairy Tale Episode:
  • Fantastic Racism: Explored in Little School of Horrors concerning humans and monsters. The monster kids in Mrs. Storch's class tend to avoid human kids. Some, like Eduardo the vampire, are contemptuous of humans, while others just don't feel comfortable around humans because they have to lie about who they are. They don't actually have a problem with having Tim in their class, and some find Eduardo's contempt to be annoying.
  • Fattening the Victim: Ms. Stoker kidnaps Jaws in Don't Eat The Mystery Meat! with the obvious implications that she plans to use him for her next lunch recipe after feeding him up some. Jaws literally doesn't realize what she's doing until Park and Stacey save him.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: At the end of The Spider Beside Her, after Ari is turned human for good she claims she couldn't help herself when she tried to eat Park, Stacey, Maria and Algie claiming a spider her size couldn't live on insects. Park coldly points out there are a lot of animals between insects and humans on the food chain and doesn't fall for her sob story.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Polly Hannah still hangs out with the other kids even though she doesn't like them and they don't like her.
  • Generation Xerox: Kids who've met Polly Hannah's mother regard her as an older, frillier, and meaner version of her daughter.
  • Genki Girl: Terri Foster and maybe Vickie Wheilson judging from her wardrobe.
  • Giant Spider: The Spider Beside Her. Though this is a subversion. The spider on the cover is one of the main characters, Ari Spinner. By the end she's reduced to a normal size spider.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Melissa is a subversion. She can turn her snakes into hair, but it's never stated if she can turn people into stone by looking at them.
  • Green Aesop: Here and there. Some of the books offer brief tracts against rampant commercialism and environmental destruction. That they aren't shoved down the throats of the readers means they work better than some attempts at the Green Aesop trope are.
    • In Slime Lake Mr. Quayle expresses contempt at those who protest his plans to dredge Slime Lake and turn the area into a commercial resort by wrecking the local wildlife. The kids, especially Stacey Carter (but not Polly Hannah), are disgusted by this.
    • In The Fright Before Christmas, Christopher is shown a Bad Future where he became a politician whose greed managed to destroy most of America's forests and air.
  • Guile Heroine: Terri Foster knows exactly how to get people to answer her questions, by being sweet and pleasant and asking them politely. Her brother Marc never understands why she acts so nice to even the worst people around them when it's clear she's got them eating out of her hands.
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The demonic rabbit David Pike's brother hatches in The Easter Egg Haunt, which has fur like needles and teeth like kitchen knives.
  • Headless Horseman: A Headless Bicycle Rider. This is actual a benign example, because the Rider is also Kirsten Bjork, the sixth grade class president.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The Skeleton On The Skateboard is on Halloween, its sequel The Skeleton's Revenge is on Thanksgiving, Boo Year's Eve, April Ghoul's Day, The Easter Egg Haunt, The Fright Before Christmas, and Here Comes Santa Claws.
  • Humans Are Bastards:
    • The real villains of Escape from Vampire Park are park owner Fang Gore and his assistant, Mary. Fang kidnapped and has been holding hostage a vampire who was just minding his own business and uses him in his carnival attraction. While Mary stitched together and created an entire person all for the sake of running a different attraction. It's hard not to see that Nathan and Jordie freeing the vampire and monster was the best thing they could've done given how loathsome their captors are.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: The reactions Stacey and Park have when they dawn upon the realization that Ms. Stoker is feeding the school stolen pets, including an anaconda and an ant farm.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: What Ari Spinner was dangerously close to becoming after becoming a giant spider and what Ms. Stoker was hinted to be as well.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight and averted a few times.
  • Invisible to Normals: Inverted in Boo Year's Eve. It is pretty much outright stated the party guests were all ghosts, yet from their perspective they believed Jordie was a ghost and could only briefly catch glimpses of her. This seems to imply they don't realize they're dead.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Alex Lee starts out as someone not particularly brave or willing to get involved in matters of bullying, but when push comes to shove he always ends up doing the right thing. In There's a Ghost in the Boy's Bathroom he was content to stay as far away from the haunted bathroom as possible and let someone else handle it until he found out the ghost went after a small child, and in Scream Around The Campfire he tells his naive bunkmate Garth to stick by him when Garth is being bullied (even though Alex doesn't think that much of him).
    • Bentley Jeste spent most of his debut appearance in Let's Scare the Teacher to Death being an asshole with the way he was pranking Nervous Wreck Ms. Cheevy. Come Creature Teacher Bent's softened up enough he successfully recognizes Ms. King's been replaced with an evil impostor and works to rescue her.
  • Karma Houdini: Ms. Stoker gets away at the end of Don't Eat The Mystery Meat! and starts stealing pets in another town.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Subverted. There are some bullies at Grove Hill, and while the kids might tease each other once in a while, they're never cruel or malicious about it. In fact, whenever someone is acting really mean and vicious, it's sign that something is very wrong.
    • The two kids who come the closest to this are Jason Dunbarr and Bentley Jeste in their earlier appearances. Not even Polly Hannah was as bad as them.
    • A younger example would have to be Christopher Hampton's little sisters, Lara and Kelli, from the way they manhandled that poor Mall Santa.
  • Kid Hero: The kids in these books are more action-oriented, taking it upon themselves to save those around them from being killed by whatever threat they're facing.
  • Lack of Empathy: Polly Hannah has got no time or energy to consider the feelings of anyone around her.
  • Laser-Guided Karma
  • Lethal Chef: Ms. Stoker from Don't Eat the Mystery Meat! She makes school lunches from kidnapped pets, and even plans to use Jaws in one of her recipes.
  • Life Imitates Art: In-universe with Scream Around The Campfire, where the campfire stories are coming to life. Though it may also be a case of Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Ari Spinner.
  • The Magic Touch: How Old Man Stone acquires his statue collection in Boys of Stone. Bonus points for his first name being Midas. He can also reverse the process if he wishes.
  • Mall Santa: The Fright Before Christmas had Christopher Hampton's little sister being pushed while on the lap of a mall Santa, causing her to accidentally punch him so hard he falls through the store's display and gets knocked out. This caused the rest of the kids to freak out because they think "Santa's been killed." Christopher's classmates start giving him grief over this, assuming, because they know how much he hates Christmas, that he got one of his sisters to attack Santa Claus on purpose.
  • Mind Screw: Boo Year's Eve.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Christopher Hampton's classmates vilify him instead of his little sisters over what they did to that Mall Santa in The Fright Before Christmas even though Lara and Kelli were the ones who punched him and knocked him over while Christopher at least tried to help the guy up.
  • Mummy: Morton turns out to be a good version of this.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Garth in Scream Around The Campfire can't understand why he's being picked on by his bunkmates, leading Alex to realize, despite how big and clumsy Garth is, he's somehow never been bullied a day in his life. It's because Garth is weird by human standards, but normal by Bigfoot ones.
  • Negative Continuity: Here and there. It can be difficult to discern a timeline of events depending on when past incidents get referenced. This is especially disconcerting in the summer-themed books.
    • Since Grove Hill School ends at 6th Grade, naturally the books taking place over the summer should mention the kids are now free from Graveyard School. Instead, the narration usually mentions they won't have to go back to that school until the summer ends... despite references to what the kids endured in the 6th Grade (Alex and the ghost in the bathroom, Algie and the headless bicycle rider).
    • In The Gator Ate Her, Algie is spending the summer with his relatives in Florida, even though he'd spent an entire summer season playing little league baseball in The Dead Sox.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The Gator Ate Her.
  • Never My Fault: Mel West draws a nasty caricature of Polly Hannah after her freak out in The Spider Beside Her, and when he gets in trouble for it he blames Ari Spinner since she threw the spider that made Polly freak out in the first place.
  • No Name Given: The unnamed body which was discovered in the boys room.
  • Non-Malicious Monster:
    • The kids in Mrs. Storch's class (except for Tim) may be young monsters, but they don't actively terrorize anyone and most of them grew up hearing horror stories about humans the same way human kids grew up hearing stories about monsters. Also, they make it very clear that whatever is wrong with the school they are not a part of it, and they're also scared by some of the teachers and the principal.
    • Also, Morton is a living mummy.
    • There are a few other examples of benign monsters. This includes Kirstin the Headless Bicycle Rider, Skip Wolfson's family who are benevolent werewolves, and Emmie the Slime Lake monster.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: No definitive origin is ever given towards the source of the horrors in the series.
  • Off with His Head!: The ending of Twins.
  • Older Than They Look: Kyle's Aunt Mab looks nothing like someone who is supposed to his grandfather's cousin's aunt, which is the first blatant hint she's not entirely human.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Ginger, who can shift from human to dragon form.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The nameless vampire in Escape from Vampire Park mentions the differences among vampire clans. Some can ingest garlic, some can withstand sunlight to certain degrees, and some hold no fear of mirrors. This is backed up by Camp Dracula, where the campers can survive in sunlight with heavy duty sunscreen (but still get sunburned), and have no problem eating garlic (except Martin, who just doesn't like the taste and is teased for it.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Little Pet Werewolf and Little School of Horrors have two different examples of werewolves.
  • Parental Obliviousness:
    • The parents of Grove Hill send their children to a school run by a woman so intimidating that she can make first graders cry simply by looking at them.
    • Averted, in at least one sense, with Mr. and Mrs. Hampton, who are indeed concerned about their son's unhappiness and want to help him but aren't sure how.
  • Pet the Dog: In The Fright Before Christmas, Stacey Carter is given shoelaces with little bull dog designs on them as apparently someone remembered how deeply she loves her dog Morris. It turns out her Secret Santa was none other than Polly Hannah. Stacey is left almost speechless.
  • Properly Paranoid: Here Comes Santa Claws opened with Kyle Chilton begging his mom not to leave him alone with a weird aunt he's never met before, and Kyle proceeds to act snotty towards the woman and her pet cat. The ending reveals Kyle had been right about Aunt Mab from the start, and that she already planned to terrify him with Natasha and their rat compatriots before she even met him. Kyle's pranks just gave her more incentive to get creative.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Justified. There are three new students who join the sixth grade, and when a character is mentioned for the first time it's still justified since the books wouldn't focus on every single student in Grove Hill.
  • Sadist Teacher: Played straight by many of Grove Hill's teachers, such as Mrs. Beak, and averted with Mr. Melon, Ms. Camp, Ms. Beamer, and Ms. King.
  • Satellite Character: Some characters tend to only be really prominent in one book depending on the main character. Maria Medina's this to Stacey Carter, and Vickie Wheilson's this to her cousin Skate.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Skate McGraw is the savvy to his cousin Vickie's energetic.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: Tales Too Scary To Tell At Camp.
  • The Scrooge: Christopher Hampton, but he's mostly scared straight when he's shown a Bad Future where he becomes a politician who dies alone after being responsible for massive environmental damage across America.
  • Seductive Mummy: Morton may be a subtle variant of this trope. She's not outright seductive, but her relationship with Park may have a shade of this.
  • The Shadow Knows: When Park sees Algie with Coach Geist in The Dead Sox, he realizes Geist has no shadow. The next time he sees the two together, Park notices that while one of them has a shadow he's not sure who it belongs to, proof Geist is trying to steal Algie's life.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Oddly enough, the first book in the series doesn't have any supernatural elements. Same said for the eighth book.
    • Tales To Scary To Tell At Camp is the only anthology book in the series. Not only that, but a few of the stories are about adults.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Smart Guy: Jordie the "Human Computer".
  • Spoiled Brat: Polly Hannah and Dolores from Boo Year's Eve.
  • Strange Girl: Ari Spinner, Morton, and most of the girls in Mrs. Storch's class.
  • Straw Character: Usually if an opinion is meant to be presented as wrong, Polly Hannah's the one used to express it. In The Fright Before Christmas, Polly parrots her mother's complaints about A Christmas Carol such as how Charles Dickens' isn't even an American writer, to which Mr. Melon retorts by saying Dickens' abilities as an author transcend nationalities. Which basically translates to him telling her to shut her mouth.
  • Straw Loser: Averted.
  • Taken for Granite: Boys Of Stone.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-universe, this is the reaction to Dr. Lucre and Polly Hannah's wardrobe choices.
  • Teacher's Pet: Polly Hannah, who has no interest in learning, just sucking up. Although for as much as Polly wants the approval of the school's authority figures some, like Mr. Melon and Ms. Cheevy, don't like her as well.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jaws in Don't Eat The Mystery Meat. He doesn't find anything suspicious about Ms. Stoker wanting to "Play a trick" on Jaws' parents by making it look like he's missing and keeping him in her basement. A basement which is filled with cages containing dozens of missing animals.
  • Totally Radical: But only to a slight degree in The Skeleton On The Skateboard. There's brief usage of 90s skateboarding slang and Vickie Wheilson's basically a walking collage of neon colors, but not enough to make the book completely dated or cheesy.
  • Undead Child: Dolores.
  • Villain Team-Up: The vampire and the monster in Escape from Vampire Park team up and take over the carnival from Fang.
  • Weight Woe: In the first book, the kids are all shocked at how skinny Jaws became over the summer, due to his parents becoming vegetarians and forcing him to eat tofu.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Let's Scare The Teacher To Death.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: New student Blue, who was apparently named because he was born on a blue moon. Because of it, he can move at super speed at night.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Coach Sandman in Scream, Team! rants about how he spent years being disrespected and mocked because of his work.
  • With Friends Like These...: Averted. The kids in these books are often quite reliable despite any frustrations going on with their classmates.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The Fright Before Christmas.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Christopher Hampton agrees with Stacey Carter that the idea of a Secret Santa gift exchange is a waste of money, Stacey suddenly feels uncomfortable and assumes that she's starting to hate Christmas just like him. Stacey then reassures herself that she does like Christmas and participates in the gift exchange.


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