There once was a young girl named Coraline who moved into a new flat with her mother and father. The neighbors are friendly, if not a bit odd and a bit confused, repeatedly calling her "Caroline" by mistake. The little girl is a self-proclaimed explorer, taking walks around the neighborhood no matter what the weather. With both of her parents occupied by work, she counts the doors at home, and figures out how to open up a door which is supposed to open up to nowhere - more specifically, a brick wall...
Coraline's curious nature is akin to that of Alice (in Wonderland), Anne (of Green Gables), and other young heroines that are famous, fantastic, and fictional. Far from being a damsel in distress, Coraline is witty, intelligent and aware. Her 'White Rabbit' comes in the shape of a black cat who has no name; as he wryly explains to her, cats know who they are so they don't need names, unlike insecure human beings.
This intriguing and creepy story is just right for readers of all ages, especially fans of Lewis Carroll and John Bellairs. This book will certainly satisfy loyal followers of the author Neil Gaiman and the artist Dave McKean. I read Coraline immediately upon its release and continue to recommend it on a regular basis. If this book had been released when I was a child, I would have read it as often as I read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Other Versions of Coraline
A graphic novel version of Coraline, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, is also available. Not only does Russell keep the story in tact, but he brings the characters to life with his beautiful illustrations. The graphic novel is certain to please those who loved the original book. It will also appeal to those who haven't read the book (yet!) and/or those who prefer comics and graphic novels to full-length novels.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love the cat in Coraline? He's one of my favorite fictional felines. Some of my favorite pictures in the graphic novel include him, naturally. I was also amused by the fact that Coraline (at the start of the graphic novel) and I were wearing almost the exact same outfit.
Coraline has also been made into a stop-motion 3-D feature film, which was in February 2009. While I enjoyed it, but I definitely preferred the book to the film. The film had a great many changes, such as making Coraline's family American and setting the story in the USA. I didn't see the need to do that. My favorite elements of the film were the music, the mouse circus, and the cat. There needed to be more of the cat. (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?)
Key to My Heart
On the afternoon of December 27th, 2008, while waiting for the bus, I spotted a black key on the back of the bench. Clearly, silently, it was awaiting me. Oversized and looking to be made of plastic, it resembled something from a Fisher-Price toddler vehicle, and the rounded top looks like a button with four little holes. Thinking that I could string it onto a thin cord or chain (after washing it, of course) and make it a necklace, I picked up the key with my thick gray glove. I was surprised by its (slight) weight; it was made of metal. Then I saw the inscription on the key and nearly shrieked. Though I managed to contain myself so I wouldn't alarm passersby, I couldn't help grinning like the Cheshire cat. Written on the key was simply:
Yes, I have a key to Coraline's flat. How cool is that?
Visit MouseCircus.com - Neil Gaiman's official website for young readers - as well as coraline.com
If you like Coraline, you'll also enjoy the following books!
For young readers - really, for all ages:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
The OutCast series, four books by Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Books by John Bellairs, including The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt
Books by Mary Downing Hahn, including The Doll in the Garden
The May Bird trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bisette (non-fiction)
Cats Cats Cats
Favorite Fictional Felines
Sassy Sidekicks of Children's Literature
Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bisette