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by Neil Gaiman and Adapted and Illustrated by P. Craig Russell

Published by HarperCollins, 2008
185 pages
ISBN: 978-0060825430

Ages 10-14

Podcast featuring this book

Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002) successfully sauntered the fine line between suspenseful and scary for the older school-aged set. The creepy appeal of the original text (briefly illustrated by Dave McKean) is further developed in this graphic novel adaptation by illustrator P. Craig Russell. Coraline, a preteen girl, moves into an old Gothic mansion with her parents. The large mansion has been converted into flats and Coraline whiles away her lonely summer days by exploring the grounds and becoming acquainted with her quirky neighbors. Coraline discovers a door in the house that seemingly leads to nowhere—until one day it provides passage to a set of apartments that are eerily identical the ones she came from. Here she meets her “other” mother and father—replicas of her true parents save for their sinister sewn-on button eyes. Feeding her delicious foods and giving her the attention she yearns for, Coraline’s “other” mother urges her to stay. P. Craig Russell’s illustrations deliciously capture the “other” mother’s menacing yet maternal character in panels that show her chomping on beetles while at the same time caressing Coraline with sharply manicured nails. When Coraline refuses to stay, she finds herself caught in a trap by the “other” mother and in order to escape, she must find her real parents and save the souls of three ghost children. Coraline, both a plucky heroine and a frightened child, progresses through the nightmare in her purple pajamas, armed with determination. The tension is flawlessly paced in the panels. A range of perspectives portray gruesome close-ups of Coraline’s doughy “dad” and red-eyed rats as well as ghostly panoramas of Coraline’s descent into dark lairs. When experiencing frightful entertainment, sometimes what is imagined in the mind’s eye is more fearsome than reality, but in the case of this novel adapted into graphic novel, seeing is believing. (TM) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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