- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
- Series: Bram Stoker Award for Young Adults
- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (July 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0380977788
- ISBN-13: 978-0380977789
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,247 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Coraline Hardcover – Illustrated, July 2, 2002
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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
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
There are only minor differences between this graphic novel and the original novel, with some parts of the story being left out, possibly to make space. The story was quite enjoyable, but a little short and could be read in less than a few minutes - but I think it's best to give your eyes a few moments to take in all the details of the beautiful artwork! Much time and effort seems to have been put into sketches and detail, and it is quite easy to miss even the most obvious details if you attempt to take the book in all at once.
If you're the kind of person that prefers colors to blank pages, then this book is definitely for you!
Pro Tip: try playing the movie soundtrack as you read! It becomes quite endearing. :)
It was finally time to delve into the delightfully dark mind of Neil Gaiman once more.
What’d I think?
A chilling tale masquerading as a child’s story, Coraline is one of those books that will be experienced very differently depending on the age of the reader. Noted in the appendix by Gaiman himself, young readers find Coraline’s tale an exciting adventure, yet the parents who read along take away a darker and more disturbing message. The writing is deceptively simple, and I believe this to be one of the defining strengths of Neil Gaiman’s work, he writes economically and with purpose.
Coraline herself is an intelligent child who really just wants her distracted parents to pay her some attention. Recently moved into a large house that had been subdivided into multiple residences, Coraline makes friends fairly easily with the two old ladies downstairs and the old man upstairs, all of them eccentrics of the highest order. She becomes fascinated with a locked door in the drawing room and thus her adventure really begins.
The kindle version of Coraline comes with some great letters and production notes from Gaiman, and within he reveals that this home is actually based on the one he grew up in as a child. Gaiman also reveals that Coraline is the book that took him the longest to write, but it is the one he is most proud of. Interestingly we also get a piece about working with the illustrator which was really neat. The illustrations by Dave McKean are really nice line drawings, that set the tone perfectly in the way Quentin Blake’s work did in Roald Dahl's books.
What’s the verdict?
Coraline cannot come more highly recommended, especially considering it is a book for 6 year olds that managed to hold the attention of an adult all the way through. If you’ve never read a Neil Gaiman book before, why not start here?
Meet Coraline Jones. She's just moved into a new apartment in the country, and her parents are to busy with work to play with her. One day, she goes through a door in her house and finds her Other mother and father on the other side. This other family loves her and makes her life fun, but is it all a trap?
This is simply one of the best 'kids stories for all ages' that I have read. Coraline is a fantastic main character, clever in a believable way and never needlessly whiny. Gaiman injects all the humor and creepiness that he possibly can into the story. All I can say is 'buy it'.