Coraline by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave Mckean
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 176 pages
I must admit that I came to read this book because of Gaiman's latest novel, The Graveyard Book. I was so enamored with his writing, I am trying to read all his works.
This is the story of a young girl named Coraline (who remains polite, even when you call her Caroline). She has moved with her parents into an old house which has been converted into four flats. Both of Coraline's parents work at home, and sometimes she feels a bit ignored and bored. Her neighbors inclue the Misses Spink and Forcible - two retired actresses who live together in the bottom flat - and Mr. Bobo - an avid mouse trainer who lives in the topmost flat.
Coraline's flat has many doors and windows. There is one door, in the drawing room, that remains locked most of the time. When her mother opens this door for Coraline to see, there is nothing behind the door but a brick wall. But when Coraline's parents aren't home, she opens the door and it leads into another flat - a flat very much like her own, only with her "other" mother, father, neighbors, and a talking cat. Thus begins Coraline's adventure.
Gaiman is a wonderful storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed this deliciously creepy novella. Originally published in 2002, this book won the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. It has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland because of its surrealism and plot based on an alternate-reality. Coraline has been adapted into a 2009 stop-motion film directed by Henry Selick.