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Coraline Paperback – August 29, 2006
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Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and the mustachioed old man under the roof ("'The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,' said the man upstairs, 'is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed.'") Coraline contents herself for weeks with exploring the vast garden and grounds. But with a little rain she becomes bored--so bored that she begins to count everything blue (153), the windows (21), and the doors (14). And it is the 14th door that--sometimes blocked with a wall of bricks--opens up for Coraline into an entirely alternate universe. Now, if you're thinking fondly of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you're on the wrong track. Neil Gaiman's Coraline is far darker, far stranger, playing on our deepest fears. And, like Roald Dahl's work, it is delicious.
What's on the other side of the door? A distorted-mirror world, containing presumably everything Coraline has ever dreamed of... people who pronounce her name correctly (not "Caroline"), delicious meals (not like her father's overblown "recipes"), an unusually pink and green bedroom (not like her dull one), and plenty of horrible (very un-boring) marvels, like a man made out of live rats. The creepiest part, however, is her mirrored parents, her "other mother" and her "other father"--people who look just like her own parents, but with big, shiny, black button eyes, paper-white skin... and a keen desire to keep her on their side of the door. To make creepy creepier, Coraline has been illustrated masterfully in scritchy, terrifying ink drawings by British mixed-media artist and Sandman cover illustrator Dave McKean. This delightful, funny, haunting, scary as heck, fairy-tale novel is about as fine as they come. Highly recommended. (Ages 11 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: "When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up," her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells "like something very old and very slow") into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. "I'm your other mother," announces a woman who looks like Coraline's mother, except "her eyes were big black buttons." Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing--they're trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it's up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery ("Her other mother's hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine's increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline's dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean's scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster. Ages 8-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The issues I had with the book was that the middle just seemed to be there to make the book longer. The middle of the book seemed to repeat its self over and over which made the book get a little boring.The end of the book felt so rushed that it was hard to keep up with. Since the end of the book was so rushed it lacked the quality the rest of the book maintained.
I recommend this book to people who like fairy tales with a twist. Coraline feels like a normal fairy tale but with a morbid spin. This book is also good for people who like books that are a little bit dark. Some of the characters in Coraline are very creepy and strange.
Coraline was the perfect heroine, and all of her reactions and actions were just what you'd expect from a precocious child. It was well established in the beginning that she was used to moving about on her own, with little supervision, so her ability to deal with the pretty scary things that happened to her was believable. That the author pulled character traits and settings from his own life made everything feel that much more real and natural in the storyline. There's no better way to write a "scary" story for young readers than this mixture of intense dread and optimistic hope.
A work Gaiman started and completed for his two daughters (as he says: started for one; finished for another). This is a dark fairy tale of two separate worlds, two alternate realities, where things are similar but wholly dissimilar. It is fantastical and slightly scary (I don’t know how his girls did with it, but assuming that Gaiman is their father – they’re probably used to the stuff!) Reading this as an adult I found there to be aspects that gave me the shudders! And while I’ve also watched the movie, many years ago and prior to reading the work, I have little recollection of how closely the movie follows the literary work (I’ll probably watch it later on, to refresh myself), thus the written work appears fresh and vibrant, if not a bit terse. That said, for what it is, it is a fantastic tale of persevering in the face of fear, uncertainty and unfamiliarity. An easy 4 stars; borderline 5.
‘Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.’ (651)
Having recently relocated to a new home, Coraline Jones is sent exploring by her parents, whom seem to have very little time for her. She ultimately ends up asking to spend time in the ‘drawing room’ where there is a bricked off door which used to allow access to the remainder of the house before it had been partitioned. While Coraline’s mother says the door goes nowhere, this is soon disproven.
Ominous signs, dreams of red-eyed mice singing: ‘We are small but we are many. We are many we are small. We were here before you rose. We will be here when you fall.’ (199) act as the harbinger of the nightmare to come! As does tea-leaf reading by Mrs. Spinks and Mrs. Forcible, who then offer her a simple stone with a hole bore through the center.
Soon, opening the door and finding there to be no brick obstruction, Coraline enters a world of gray, a world created just for her. Here she meets her ‘other mother’ and her ‘other father’. Always slightly ominous in presentation but seldom imposing or directly threatening… just attached to vibes which create great discomfort. Other mother wants Coraline to stay, she wants her love, she wants to have a ‘proper family.’ (360)
Coraline retreats and goes home, only to find her parents have been kidnapped by Other Mother! Shaken with fear she knows what she must do – she has to save them! She has to be brave!
Re-entering the corridor she soon encounters a black cat, who is able to speak (convenient) and who knows the workings of other mother and flatly states that she isn’t to be trusted, nor are the rats as they are her spies.
Having been locked in the cupboard by other mother because of her defiance, Coraline encounters the spirits of three other children which, presumably, other mother had tried to lure into her clutches by the same means. They request Coraline to set their souls free, to challenge her to a game and to be very wary of all of her nefarious ways.
Engaging the game of finding the souls and her parents she is promised by Other mother that if she wins she may go free. Coraline seeks and finds, but not without hindrance 3 marbles which harbor the souls of the children and a snow-globe in which her parents are trapped.
Escaping back to the other side, she severs Other mother’s hand in the door. Knowing the hand is after the key to the door she keeps strung upon her neck, Coraline sets up a simple trap involving a paper picnic blanket, a very deep well and feigned awareness of the situation. She wins, hand down. Hehe.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The end was also breathtaking and made me hold my breath.