Summary and book reviews of Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline

By Neil Gaiman

Coraline
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2002,
    176 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2003,
    162 pages.

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Book Summary

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

A note from Neil Gaiman about Coraline
"More then ten years ago I started to write a children’s book. It was for my daughter, Holly, who was five years old. I wanted it to have a girl as a heroine, and I wanted it to be refreshingly creepy. I started to write a story about a girl named Coraline. I thought that the story would be five or ten pages long. The story itself had other plans.... It was a story, I learned when people began to read it, that children experienced as an adventure, but which gave adults nightmares. It's the strangest book I've written, it took the longest time to write, and it's the book I'm proudest of."

Fairy Tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten -- G.K. Chesterton.

Chapter I.

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

It was a very old house – it had an attic under the roof and a cellar under the ground and an overgrown garden with huge old trees in it.

Coraline's family didn't own all of the house, it was too big for that. Instead they owned part of it.

There were other people who lived in the old house.

Miss Spink and Miss Forcible lived in the flat below Coraline’s, on the ground floor. They were both old and round, and they lived in their flat with a number of ageing highland terriers who had names like Hamish and Andrew and Jock. Once upon a time Miss Spink and Miss Forcible had been actresses, as Miss Spink told Coraline the first time she met her.

"You see, Caroline," Miss Spink said, getting Coraline's name wrong, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Describe Coraline. What kind of a person is she? How does she like to spend her time?

  2. How is Coraline treated by her parents? Who are the other adults in Coraline's life and how do they treat her? What is the difference between how she is treated in the real world and the other world?

  3. Before entering the other world, Coraline receives ominous warnings about her future. What are the warnings and from whom does she receive them? What do the messages mean?

  4. When Coraline unlocks the door to the neighboring flat she knows she is doing something she is not supposed to (pp.26). But she does it anyway. Why? What are the consequences? Have you ever done something you knew you were not supposed to? How did this make you feel? What were ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Gaiman has crafted a superbly creepy and surreal fairy tale which will appeal to robust children from about age 9, and most children aged 11 and up. For younger children, new to the horror genre, the story may seem a little slow at the beginning as there is little tangible 'action' and the subtlety of the building tension might pass them by, but if they make it through the first few chapters they're likely to be hooked! Particularly recommended is the audio version read by Gaiman in a well paced, somewhat sinister voice which is enhanced by music and effects from the Gothic Arches who have also been featured on the audio versions of the Lemony Snicket books 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'.  

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Philip Pullman
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, rise to your feet and applaud Coraline is the real thing.

Author Blurb Orson Scott Card
A deliciously scary book that we loved reading together as a family.

Author Blurb Diana Wynne Jones
The most splendidly original, weird, and frightening book I have read, and yet full of things children will love.

Author Blurb Terry Pratchett
It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and it is a masterpiece.

Times Educational Supplement

As we used to say, it blew my mind…chilly, finely-wrought prose, a truly weird setting and a fable that taps into our most uncomfortable fears.

Booklist - Stephanie Zvirin

Gr. 5-8. ...an often-compelling horror novel, but, as with so many adult authors who attempt to reach young readers, his grasp of his audience is less sure than his command of his material.

School Library Journal - Bruce Anne Shock

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. Grades 6-8.

Publishers Weekly

.... an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons.... a real bedtime-buster. Ages 8-up.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A magnificently creepy fantasy.... Not for the faint-hearted--who are mostly adults anyway--but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister Coraline is spot on.

Washington Post Book World

Gaiman’s tale is inventive, scary, thrilling and finally affirmative. Readers young and old will find something to startle them.

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

By turns creepy and funny, bittersweet and playful…can be read quickly and enjoyed deeply.

Children's Literature - Joan Kindig

... a good edge-of-your-seat read without being terribly frightening. For those children who like to be scared, Gaiman's novel is a well-written alternative to Goosebumps.

New York Times Book Review

A modern ghost story with all the creepy trimmings…Well done.

Reader Reviews
sammy

spooky
This is a really good book because it makes you fell spooky and mysterious. I recommend this book because Coraline is a brave little girl even without being with her parents. Thumps up if you give it a 5 3 :-p

Asha Ibrahim

Speechless
...Wow that took my breath away. It's not good, it's not great, neither was it fantastic. You can't describe this book..

Julie Baker

Coraline
I love this book because of how spooky and mysterious it makes you feel. You hold on to each word and read, while they came to life. Coraline is a brave girl who doesn't take no for and answer and she's also a great character. Total thumbs up!! :)

Micky

Coraline: A Psychological Horror
I read this book when I was 11 and found it incredibly disturbing. I cried myself to sleep one night I was so frightened. At first the book seemed dull and lifeless. But something that was incorporated well throughout the entire book was the sense of...   Read More

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