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Ghoulish Song

Ghoulish Song

For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
A brave girl flees a ghoul while trying to save her town in this lively, fast-paced companion to National Book Award winner Goblin Secrets.

Kaile lives in Zombay, an astonishing city where goblins walk the streets and witches work their charms and curses. Kaile wants to be a musician and is delighted when a goblin gives her a flute carved out of bone. But the flute’s single, mournful song has a dangerous consequence: It separates Kaile and her shadow. Anyone without a shadow is considered dead, and despite Kaile’s protests that she’s alive and breathing, her family forces her to leave so she can’t haunt their home.

Kaile and her shadow soon learn that the troublesome flute is tied to a terrifying ghoul made from the bones of those who drowned in the Zombay River. With the ghoul chasing her and the river threatening to flood, Kaile has an important role to play in keeping Zombay safe. Will Kaile and her shadow be able to learn the right tune in time?

Set in the delightful and dangerous world of Goblin Secrets, Ghoulish Song is a gripping adventure laced with humor and mystery from National Book Award–winning author William Alexander.
  • Margaret K. McElderry Books | 
  • 176 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781442427297 | 
  • March 2013 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
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Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

Ghoulish Song
By William Alexander

About the Book

The last day of Kaile's life does not start well.

It's Inspection Day at the family bakery, and between her mother's temper, her little brother's antics, and her job serving breakfast to the demanding citizens of Zombay, she could use a break. Then a goblin theatre troupe offers to put on a play for the customers. Kaile treasures the gift they give her—an innocuous little flute made of bone—and plays its haunting song without hesitation. That's when her life officially ends, and her adventures begin.

Set alongside the National Book Award-winning Goblin Secrets, Ghoulish Song weaves a story of music and mystery through the charmed, cursed world of Zombay.

Discussion Questions

Please use examples from the text to support your answers.

1. Foreshadowing is a literary device in which the author hints what may happen later in the story. How does the first line of the novel foreshadow what may happen later on in the plot? What do you think the novel might be about?

2. What was Kaile’s relationship with her grandfather like? What instrument did her grandfather give Kaile and what did she do with it? What eventually became of the instrument?

3. Although Ghoulish Song is not a sequel to Goblin Secrets, both novels a see more

More Books from this Author

About the Author

William Alexander
Photograph by Matthew Aronoff

William Alexander

William Alexander won the National Book Award for his debut novel, Goblin Secrets, and won the Earphones Award for his narration of the audiobook. His other novels include Ghoulish Song, Ambassador, and Nomad. William studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at the Clarion workshop. He teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Like the protagonist of Nomad and Ambassador, William is a second generation Latino immigrant to the US. Visit him online at WillAlex.net and GoblinSecrets.com, and on Twitter via @williealex.

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