Modern Classic: Coraline

Left to her own devices by her preoccupied parents, Coraline Jones is exploring her family’s new home when she discovers a small door that opens onto a brick wall. Later, when she returns to the mysterious door, the bricks have vanished. Coraline crawls through the narrow passage and ends up in a parallel world that at first glance appears to be a better version of home. Once she arrives, Coraline is greeted by her “Other Mother.” The Other Mother looks very similar to Coraline’s real mother, but with paper-white skin and shiny, black buttons for eyes. Her time spent in the other world is fun for a while, but soon Coraline discovers the sinister intentions of this “other” family. The Other Mother will stop at nothing to get Coraline to stay with her forever, including kidnapping Coraline’s real parents. Coraline must play a dangerous game with the Other Mother in an attempt to rescue her parents and return to her world, but the Other Mother isn’t interested in playing fair.

Coraline’s character is a perfect example of the famous quotation by Ambrose Redmoon, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Coraline is afraid of the Other Mother, but she stands up to her nonetheless.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (©2002) is a frightening, spine-chilling, and downright delightful tale. The wonderfully spooky story is aided by the macabre illustrations by Dave McKean.

Recommended for ages 10+.

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