Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy #2)

Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy #2)

by Terry Pratchett

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Post-life citizens
Breath challenged
Vertically disadvantaged
(buried, not short)

Johnny Maxwell's new friends not appreciate the term "ghosts," but they are, well, dead.

The town council wants to sell the cemetery, and its inhabitants aren't about to take that lying down! Johnny is the only one who can see them, and and the previously alive need his help to save their home and their history. Johnny didn't mean to become the voice for the lifeless, but if he doesn't speak up, who will?

In Johnny Maxwell's second adventure, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett explores the bonds between the living and the dead and proves that it's never too late to have the time of your life -- even if it is your afterlife!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061975219
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Series: Johnny Maxwell Trilogy Series , #2
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 152,785
File size: 783 KB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Johnny and the Dead (SNY)
Chapter One

Johnny never knew for certain why he started seeing the dead.The Alderman said it was probably because he was too lazy not to.Most people's minds don't let them see things that might upset them, he said. The Alderman said he should know if anyone did, because he'd spent his whole life (1822...1906) not seeing things.

Wobbler Johnson, who was technically Johnny's best friend, said it was because he was nuts.

But Yo-less, who read medical books, said it was probably because he couldn't focus his mind like normal people. Normal people just ignored almost everything that was going on around them, so that they could concentrate on important things like, well, getting up, going to the lavatory, and getting on with their lives. Whereas Johnny just opened his eyes in the morning and the whole universe hit him in the face.

Wobbler said this sounded like "nuts" to him.

Whatever it was called, what it meant was this: Johnny saw things other people didn't.

Like the dead people hanging around in the cemetery.

The Alderman — at least the old Alderman — was a bit snobby about most of the rest of the dead, even about Mr. Vicenti, who had a huge black marble grave with angels and a photograph of Mr. Vicenti (1897...1958) looking not at all dead behind a little window. The Alderman said Mr. Vicenti had been a Capo di Monte in the Mafia.

Mr. Vicenti told Johnny that, on the contrary, he had spent his entire life being a wholesale novelty salesman, amateur escapologist, and children's entertainer, which in a number of important respects was as exactly like not being in the Mafia as it waspossible to get.

But all this was later. After he'd gotten to know the dead a lot better. After the raising of the ghost of the Ford Capri.

Johnny really discovered the cemetery after he'd started living at Granddad's. This was Phase Three of Trying Times, after the shouting, which had been bad, and the Being Sensible About Things (which had been worse; people are better at shouting). Now his dad was getting a new job somewhere on the other side of the country. There was a vague feeling that it might all work out, now that people had stopped trying to be sensible. On the whole, he tried not to think about it.

He'd started using the path along the canal instead of going home on the bus, and had found that if you climbed over the place where the wall had fallen down, and then went around behind the crematorium, you could cut off half the journey.

The graves went right up to the canal's edge.

It was one of those old cemeteries you got owls and foxes in and sometimes, in the Sunday papers, people going on about Our Victorian Heritage, although they didn't go on about this one because it was the wrong kind of heritage, being too far from London.

Wobbler said it was spooky and sometimes went home the long way, but Johnny was disappointed that it wasn't spookier. Once you sort of put out of your mind what it was — once you forgot about all the skeletons underground, grinning away in the dark — it was quite friendly. Birds sang. All the traffic sounded a long way off. It was peaceful.

He'd had to check a few things, though. Some of the older graves had big stone boxes on top of them, and in the wilder parts these had cracked and even fallen open. He'd had a look inside, just in case.

It had been sort of disappointing to find nothing there.

And then there were the mausoleums. These were much bigger and had doors in them, like little houses. They looked a bit like garden sheds with extra angels. The angels were generally more lifelike than you'd expect, especially one near the entrance who looked as though he'd just remembered that he should have gone to the toilet before he left heaven.

The two boys walked through the cemetery now, kicking up the drifts of fallen leaves.

"It's Halloween next week," said Wobbler. "I'm having a party. You have to come as something horrible. Don't bother to find a disguise."

"Thanks," said Johnny.

"You notice how there's a lot more Halloween stuff in the shops these days?" said Wobbler.

"It's because of Bonfire Night," said Johnny. "Too many people were blowing themselves up with fireworks, so they invented Halloween, where you just wear masks and stuff."

"Mrs. Nugent says all that sort of thing is tampering with the occult," said Wobbler. Mrs. Nugent was the Johnsons' next-door neighbor, and known to be unreasonable on subjects like Madonna played at full volume at three a.m.

"Probably it is," said Johnny.

"She says witches are abroad on Halloween," said Wobbler.

"What?" Johnny's forehead wrinkled. "Like . . . Marjorca and places?"

"Suppose so," said Wobbler.

"Makes . . . sense, I suppose. They probably get special out-of-season bargains, being old ladies," said Johnny. "My aunt can go anywhere on the buses for almost nothing, and she's not even a witch."

"Don't see why Mrs. Nugent is worried, then," said Wobbler. "It ought to be a lot safer around here, with all the witches on vacation."

They passed a very ornate mausoleum, which even had little stained-glass windows. It was hard to imagine who'd want to see in, but then, it was even harder to imagine who'd want to look out.

"Shouldn't like to be on the same plane as 'em," said Wobbler, who'd been thinking hard. "Just think, p'raps you can only afford to go on vacation in the autumn, and you get on the plane, and there's all these old witches going abroad."

"Singing 'Here we go, here we go, here we go'?" said Johnny. "But I bet you'd get really good service in the hotel."


"Funny, really," said Johnny.


"I saw a thing in a book once," said Johnny, "about these people in Mexico or somewhere, where they all go down to the cemetery for a big fiesta at Halloween every year. Like they don't see why people should be left out of things just because they're dead."

"Yuck. A picnic? In the actual cemetery?"


"Reckon you'd get green glowing hands pushing up through the earth and swiping the sandwiches?"

"Don't think so. Anyway . . . they don't eat sandwiches in Mexico. They eat tort . . . something."

Johnny and the Dead (SNY)
. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Johnny and the Dead 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of Terry Pratchett's children's books, which I picked up in a charity shop recently. Johnny can see the dead people in the local cemetery, but luckily for him they are a lot less angst-ridden than the dead people in "The Sixth Sense" : ) However, the dead are incensed that the local council has sold the cemetery for building land, and ask Johnny to help them stop the development. It was an amusing read and an enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours.
ironicqueery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett's second book in the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy starts out wonderfully. We find Johnny can talk to the dead, and as he does so, comes to learn more about the history of his town and good lessons about respecting the importance of those who came before you. This isn't to say it's a preachy book. It's a Pratchett book, meaning there is humor and cunning insight. The problem, however, is that Pratchett seems to rush the last half of the novel. I wonder if perhaps the smaller length found in the young adult novel proved to be a bit too cumbersome for his storytelling. There's enough plot here for at least a hundred more pages, but I'm guessing editors made him cut it down. In the process, the conclusion of the story rushes by and all the build up ends up being a bit of a let down. It's still a wonderful book though, and worth a read by children and adults alike.
julied on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Twelve year old Johnny Maxwell is cutting through the cemetery one day with a friend when he knocks on the door of a tomb and the inhabitant answers the door. Johnny is the only one with the unique ability to wake up the dead and soon they are bothering him to stop the proposed development of their cemetery for a large corporation's offices. Once they discover they can leave the cemetery, go to the movies, and travel over telephone wires to chat on late night radio talk shows everyone else starts feeling that something isn't quite right around town too. As always, Pratchett's twists and turns of plot and conversation are hilarious while telling an enjoyable tale about living life to the fullest even after you're dead.
kthomp25 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting take on history and the need to preserve remembrances of it for the living. The British references make it difficult to understand totally, but the underlying messages are profound.
lorelorn_2007 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A touching story of a boy in nineties Britain who can see the dead in his local graveyard. When the local council decides to replace the run down graveyard with a modern office building the boy and the dead team up to try and stop them, but things quickly get out of hand.I love this story, and always get emotional when the Blackbury Pals come to collect their last member. Pratchett is careful with his social commentary, weaving into a tale that is charming rather than didactic.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved, loved, loved this book and can't wait to read the others in the trilogy. I enjoy Pratchett's children's book more than the discworld books.
babywitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
better than book one in the johnny maxwell trilogy. I don't think you need to read them in order.
Go4Jugular More than 1 year ago
This book continues the saga of Johnny, from "Only You Can Save Mankind", and his misfit group of friends. While the first book seems tentative, in this one author Terry Pratchett's signature style is more fully on display, with an interesting plot and relevant, intertwined subplots. If "Only You Can Save Mankind" was the appetizer, this book, though a quick read, is neverthless a satisfying main course.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
The town council wants to sell off the historical cemetery to a developer. They insist that no one except an old woman visits the place and it is expensive to keep it up. They do not know that twelve years old Johnny Maxwell uses it as a short cut and that he has personally met and talked with some of the vertically challenged residents such as the Alderman. The deceased people interred there are irate that their final resting place is to be bulldozed and refuse to lie around letting it happen. They draft Johnny as their spokesperson. --- Johnny enlists his friends like Wobbler Johnson, who thinks the whole thing is nuts but will help his pal. Their efforts to publicize the history are ignored as no one remotely famous is buried there in some ways even with names on stones it is sort of a Potter¿s Field. The dead are no longer going to take it so they plan to kill the project before their bones are rattled except that they cannot agree on a plan. Only Johnny can bring the two parties together, but neither the dead nor the living heed the words of a preadolescent. --- The sequel to ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND is a terrific amusing satirical fantasy that is fun for readers of all ages. Johnny is the center of the story line that holds together the graveyard humor with his family escapades and the townsfolk plots of future development. Perhaps the only quibble for adult readers is the fast climax, but remember the targeted audience is the preadolescent crowd who will laugh out loud at the ironic dark humor. --- Harriet Klausner