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Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

By / June 30, 2012 / no comments

One of the joys of being a teacher is that I get to read books to my kids. Picture books are wonderful and along with vivid pictures to go with the stories, only a little bit of enthusiastic reading can suck them in almost as much as hearing the song “Green Sleeves” outside their houses.

As a reader of fantasy I’m always looking to introduce it to them.

Coraline follows a young girl perhaps at an age of 9 or 10 (we aren’t told). Her family move into a new house which she wasn’t too happy about because a new house means a new school, and this school wore a uniform. Coraline’s family are neglectful because of their demanding jobs. As Coraline explores the house she finds a bricked up old door. However, the first night there Coraline wakes up in the middle of the night to see strange lights were emanating from the once bricked door. She heads through and finds the exact same house she had just left behind. As she walks into the kitchen she finds her mother there. Strange. Except this mother has black buttons for eyes. Thinking it is all a dream Coraline thinks nothing of it. Her other mother lavishes her with attention and good food and soon Coraline is swept up in the euphoria. So what’s the catch? Her other mother only want to love her………FOREVER.

Coraline is a novella and thus is a short read at 163 pages. However there is so much detail crammed into those few pages. All the characters are very deeply characterized and the story builds up to a crescendo of action. Children can really relate to this book as Coraline is of around the same age as them. It appeals to girls because Coraline is a heroine and it appeals to boys because she’s not your typical dress wearing girl, she’s out for adventure and she’s brave. It definitely is a very fun read and with a little bit of imagination this book really comes to life. Yes to us the story is predictable and Gaiman’s mysteries are also obvious but it still is a fun read. A perfect book for slightly older kids (7-12) to read to themselves and a great book for you to read to your little one or to yourself.

*Disclaimer* The movie is quite different to the book. One fundamental additional character in the movie changes the dynamic completely.


On a previous article I wrote are fantasy readers more imaginative than other readers. While I was reading this book, I could see the kids who were interested and those that weren’t. In the back of my head I was thinking…hmmmm, potential fantasy readers? Obviously a gross generalisation. However, I also let the kids watch the movie the moment I finished reading the book. The movie was quite scary and very different to the book. So I posed the questions what were the fundamental differences between book and movie, and what was better, the book or the movie?

A question like this to adults is usually a very lopsided one, but with children you usually just get a straight up honest answer.

– I liked the book better because the movie was too scary
– I liked the movie better as there are pictures
– I liked the movie better because I don’t have to imagine it

And the winner goes to the kid that said….

– I liked the book better because it was more detailed.

And there is my potential fantasy reader. Should I just throw fantasy books at her without abandon?

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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