Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: 2002
Publisher: Harper Children's Audio
Blurb(GR): When Coraline explores her new home, she steps through a door and into another house just like her own - except that
things aren't quite as they seem. There's another mother and another father in this house and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. Coraline must use all of her wits and every ounce of courage in order to save herself and return home... but will she escape and will life ever be the same again?
This would be a perfect choice for a road trip with small children (maybe age seven and up or so). It’s an incredibly imaginative, quirky adventure that’s simple yet not excruciatingly so. I felt entertained throughout, and some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud. There’s no question that this book is creeeeeepy but I’m one of those people that believes kids can handle a lot more than watered down fluff books. Coraline is such a wonderful heroine: she’s a clever, matter of fact, singular girl with an awesome fashion sense (Day-glo green gloves and yellow wellington boots that look like frogs? YES.) and a quiet determination to succeed even though no one takes her seriously. The
stakes are high, the villain is completely unsettling and evil, and Coraline is alone, but she triumphs! It is very satisfying.
Coraline (who everyone mistakenly calls Caroline) lives in a big old house, once a large estate, but now divided up into flats. Her parents are constantly unavailable and absorbed with boring work on their computers, except for when her Dad wants to try out a crazy recipe or her Mum wants to go shopping for boring school clothes. There’s no one for her to play with except the eccentric Misses Spink and Forcible, former actresses, and the old man in the attic who claims to be the ring leader for a mouse circus. More than anything, Coraline wants something new, an
adventure, even if it might be dangerous.
“On the first day Coraline's family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, and they warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.”
This book is exceedingly quotable; the paperback is only one hundred sixty two pages, but there are three pages of quotes currently listed on goodreads. I particularly loved Coraline’s conversations with the cat:
“What's your name,' Coraline asked the cat. 'Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?' Cats don't have names,' it said 'No?' said Coraline. 'No,' said the cat. 'Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.”
Definitely another cat for the “best talking cats” list. The writing is spare but still manages to be atmospheric and inventive. This quote is so simple, but it’s one of my favorites:
“The sky had never seemed so sky; the world had never seemed so world."
Finally, I have to mention that this audiobook is narrated by the author and he does an AMAZING job. If I could have one person narrate my life, it would be Neil Gaiman.
Perfect Musical Pairing
The Rat’s Song
This is the audiobook version of the Rat’s Song that Neil Gaiman wrote for the book. It appears in segments in the book, and in the audio version (as you’ll see) it is chanted in eerie, echoing verses. I listened to this while walking through heavy fog right before sunrise and it was CREEPY. Enjoy! Try not to have too many nightmares.