Friday, June 10, 2011

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This is one of the creepiest children's books I have ever read. It is hard to believe that any child could read it without getting nightmares. Amazingly, however, there is a certain group of children who just love it. I think they are the same kids who liked Goosebumps, or Series of Unfortunate Events.

In the book Coraline is an only child who is often overlooked and ignored by her parents. One day she goes through a magic door and finds herself in a home much like her own, but with an "other mother," and "other father." The counterfeits, who have black buttons for eyes, try to win Coraline's affection by giving her everything she ever wanted, but Coraline senses that she is more like dinner than daughter to them. The other mother catches her real parents, and Coraline must use all her courage and wits to save them. Even though this book is full of very disturbing images, it is really well written. The reader it totally transported into the weird, twisted world of the Other Mother. Coraline is so plucky that you feel sure she will triumph in the end.

I listened to this on CD. It was read by the author. Often books read by the author are not that well done (e.g. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle) because authors are not professional voice actors. In this case, however, I don't think anyone else could have done the story justice. Gaimen's cadence and inflection were utterly important to the delivery of the the plot and characters. (162 p)


  1. Both of my daughters were required to read this book in 5th grade. The both agree that it was a very creepy book. Neither of them really enjoyed the book at all. One says that while it was frightening, it wasn't excessively so, and that she felt it was appropriate. The other daughter said that they read it as a class and it upset several of the students to the point where they were crying in class, and asked the teacher to stop reading it (the teacher didn't). This daughter felt that the book was totally inappropriate for children. My teenage boy had only seen the movie which he said was one of the creepiest movies he'd ever seen. With so many quality children's books out there, why wait your child's time on something that makes them feel uneasy?

  2. I wonder at a teacher that would require a class to read this. Why? It is well written, but there are so many other well written books that wont give kids nightmares. It is definitely a book that kids should read only if they really want to read it. Thanks for the comment.