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Coraline

by Neil Gaiman

Publishers Weekly : British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: "When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up," her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells "like something very old and very slow") into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. "I'm your other mother," announces a woman who looks like Coraline's mother, except "her eyes were big black buttons." Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing--they're trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it's up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery ("Her other mother's hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine's increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline's dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean's scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster. Ages 8-up.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 6-8-When Coraline and her parents move into a new house, she notices a mysterious, closed-off door. It originally went to another part of the house, which her family does not own. Some rather eccentric neighbors call her Caroline and seem not to understand her very well, yet they have information for her that will later prove vital. Bored, she investigates the door, which takes her into an alternate reality. There she meets her "other" mother and father. They are very nice to her, which pleases Coraline but also makes her a little suspicious. Her neighbors are in this other world, and they are the same, yet somehow different. When Coraline gets nervous and returns home, her parents are gone. With the help of a talking cat, she figures out that they are being held prisoner by her other parents, as are the souls of some long-lost children. Coraline's plan to rescue them involves, among other things, making a risky bargain with her other mother whose true nature is beginning to show. The rest of the story is a suspense-filled roller coaster, and the horror is all the more frightening for being slightly understated. A droll humor is present in some of the scenes, and the writing is simple yet laden with foreboding. The story is odd, strange, even slightly bizarre, but kids will hang on every word. Coraline is a character with whom they will surely identify, and they will love being frightened out of their shoes. This is just right for all those requests for a scary book.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms