October 29, 2009

Rabid Reads for Halloween: "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman; with illustrations by Dave McKean
Publisher: Harper Collins (2002)
Genre: Children's
Pages: 162
ISBN 0-380-97778-8
ISBN 0-06-623744-0 (lib. bdg.)

Neil Gaiman, is there anything you can't do?

It only took one book, Anansi Boys, to turn me into a Gaiman fan. I've since had the pleasure of reading American Gods, Stardust, Marvel Comics;' 1602, and caught a few glimpses at Sandman comic books (haven't had a chance to read one in its entirety, though). The man knows how to spin a yard as well or better than just about anyone I can think of.

With Coraline, we're whisked into the world of a young girl who has just moved with her parents into an apartment, which is a section of a very large, and very old house. Her parents ignore her, her neighbors insist on calling her "Caroline" instead of "Coraline," and there is nothing to do. That is, until she discovers a door in the one room where she isn't supposed to go.

In the room that's a repository of sorts for her late grandmother's furniture and belongings, there's a door that opens to a brick wall. On the other side is an empty apartment, the one empty apartment in the whole house. That brick wall disappears, however, when Coraline is alone, opening instead to another apartment in another world. There, she meets her "other mother."

Everything she wants to do, she can do. Everything she wants to eat, she can eat. And her other parents are so much more fun to be around. There's just that peculiar thing nagging at Coraline--her other parents, and everyone in this strange world have buttons for eyes. And if Coraline wants to stay, she has to sew buttons into her eyes too.

It's at this point in the story where the facade peels away and Coraline starts to see her other mother for who she really is. And who she really is is a very cold, and very conniving monster that wants to trap Coraline in her world, and will do anything to make that happen.

Even though I am in my thirties, I still love reading a book that can make me feel like a kid again. Neil Gaiman accomplished that with this book. In a little more than 150 pages, he tells a story that plucks at the heartstrings of anyone who wished as a child for a more fantastical setting in which to live life and, above all else, explore. Coraline is an explorer at heart, and it is through this--not to mention the help of a talking cat and a few other allies--she is able to face her fears and "beat the dragon."

If you're concerned this may be too dark a tale to have your little ones read, relax. The subject matter may be dark, but it's nothing a kid can't handle. And if the reaction to the film based on this book is any indication, kids and kids at heart will love with story.

I sure did.

You can find a couple of other reviews for this book at: The Maiden's Court; Boys Blogging Books; A Maze of Books.


  1. I'm a huge wimp, so the first time I tried to make it through Coraline I didn't succeed. But I recently watched the movie and LOVED it, so I'm probably ready to try again. Maybe on a really sunny day. :) Great review!

  2. Oh, you gotta read it the whole way though. Soldier on, little lady. :)