By: Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by: Chris Riddell
Coraline, though small for her age, has a passion and love for exploring anywhere and everywhere. Her parents don’t pay her much attention and she is often left to entertain herself. While in a secluded room of her home, Coraline discovers a door that opens on a brick wall. However, it won’t stay that way for long.
Once she finds a way through the door and into the passage beyond, Coraline will discover a dangerous world and bravery she never knew she had.
This is the first book on my blog that I would classify as a “children’s novel.” Admittedly, I don’t usually allow myself to partake in the consumption of children’s books. I think this is largely because I thought, as an adult, I’m not supposed to. I realize now that I was dead wrong and that children’s books can be pretty darn great. I remember why reading as a child was such a joy; back when books were brighter and more optimistic.
Neil Gaiman understands, at the core, what a children’s book is supposed to be. Here is a strong protagonist (bonus points that the main character is a young girl), the story is concise, to the point, emphasized a moral without rubbing the reader’s nose in it, and it provides escapism to a fantastical (if a bit horrifying) world. The book also creates anticipation and suspense. Gaiman doesn’t coddle the reader, and he holds back little in the way of descriptions and settings.
The themes in Coraline are genuinely creepy and even managed to give me the heebie-jeebies as a 23-year-old adult. At my age, I’m not even sure I could have done what Coraline did. I like to think so. We all do, but she actually put herself into a dangerous situation and faces it with courage and wit.
Therein lies another reason to appreciate children’s novels; they have characters that think like children. Children are often able to come up with clever solutions to a problem because they still have the creativity society has yet to beat out of them. I think in part this is also where some of Coraline’s bravery stems from. She doesn’t overthink or overanalyze. She just does. That is a trait, as an anxious adult, I can appreciate.
Also, the illustrations by Chris Riddell were incredible and macabre. I wish there had been more than just one at the beginning of each chapter.
Dear Reader, be wise, be brave, be tricky. Be like Coraline.
Overall Rating: 5