Sunday, May 16, 2010

Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman

Coraline and her family have just moved in to a new home, a large rural manse inhabited by an odd mouse trainer and two blowsy yet charming ladies who used to be actresses. An inveterate explorer who is mind-numbingly bored in this new place, Coraline explores her strange new home.

On her travels, she discovers a door that carries her to a parallel world where her "other mother" -- an extremely creepy maternal doppelganger with the general looks of her real mother but buttons for eyes and witchy hands -- and "other father" live. Suddenly, Coraline's real parents vanish, and Coraline knows that only she can save herself and bring them back.

Chilling (yet at times funny), Gaiman's story taps into some deep fears about abandonment and the dangers lurking in the world outside the home. P. Craig Russell's meticulous, painterly illustrations bring the humor and strangeness of this tale to life.

Graphic novels of books have always seemed like film novelizations to me -- an abbreviated shadow of the original. I've always heard that this is one graphic novel that one-ups the original story. And what a spooky story.

Bibliotherapeutic value: A curious girl who ventures into a perilous world, Coraline is a great model of a self-reliant tween who battles a force that threatens to swallow her up. A story about facing down life's dangers.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. New York: Scholastic, 2003.

ISBN: 0380977788. $16.99.

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