Posted in Fantasy, Tween Reads

Book Review: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman (illus. by Dave McKean) (HarperCollins, 2002)

Recommended for ages 10+

Coraline is a dark fantasy created by author Neil Gaiman. It was adapated into a graphic novel (2009) and an animated feature (2009).

Coraline is a young girl who moves into a new home with her parents and feels out of place. Her parents don’t seem to have too much time for her, so she goes exploring and meets some of her odd new neighbors and the neighborhood cat. One night, she discovers a hidden doorway that leads to a parallel world; it’s here that she meets her “Other Mother”, who seems to have all of the time in the world for Coraline and always makes delicious meals. She desperately wants Coraline to stay, but there’s something… strange… about the Other Mother. As Coraline visits more often, she discovers that the Other Mother is not at all what she seems, and she’ll need the help of the neighborhood cat – who isn’t exactly what he seems, either – to save herself and her family. 

Neil Gaiman has been writing dark fantasy since the 1989, when he revived the DC Comics title The Sandman. He brings his creepy fantasy worlds to children as easily as he does to his older audience, and often makes some of his most unsettling characters adorable. His main characters often go against the grain, and Coraline is no exception – she is an independent, stubborn, curious girl who loves a good adventure; she’s also a smart heroine who can work her way out of a tight situation.
 
Mr. Gaiman creates memorable images with his words – visions of The Other Mother will stick with kids and adults alike and Coraline’s odd neighbors come with their own strange charm that smoothly made the transition from print to screen. His descriptions allow the reader’s imagination to run wild without ever worrying about going over the top – because there simply is no limit.
 
Coraline has won numerous awards, including the 2003 Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novella and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. Neil Gaiman’s Mouse Circus website – a Coraline reference – is geared toward his younger readers and offers information about the author, downloadable computer wallpaper, and video interviews and book trailers.
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Author:

I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading (http://whatchareading.com). I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (http://www.onwednesdays.net/), where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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