Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Coraline" by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is sick and twisted and I love it.

I've wanted to read this book ever since I watched the flippin' WEIRD Tim Burton-esque movie with my kids. I finally ordered a copy of the book last week. Bookworm Child read it as soon as it arrived, and since it passed her test (and wasn't about rainbows and unicorns) I thought it might be pretty good.

Coraline Jones is the only child of less-than-doting parents. Her mom and dad love her, but they're always so busy that they mostly just ignore her. In fact, no one around Coraline pays her much attention. Her neighbors can't even get her name right, no matter how many times she corrects them.

Left to her own devices, Coraline spends most of the damp and dreary summer exploring in and around the old house they've moved into. Her neighbors are a bit strange, but they're nothing compared to what Coraline finds at the end of a cold and musty hallway: her Other Mother, who wants Coraline to stay with her forever, if only she can sew big shiny black buttons in place of Coraline's eyes.

Just like the other Gaiman book I read, this one is brimful of bizarre atmosphere. I mean, it didn't creep me out or give my seven-year-old nightmares, but some weird stuff goes on, and it's great. The story is very short and simply told--Gaiman could have gone into much more detail and not lost my approval--but the way it's written is perfect for kids. Some kids, anyway. You may want to check it out first, depending on your own child's sensitivity to weirdness.

It's funny--I got the exact same thing from my husband and my son: "Why are you reading that book? We have the movie." Well, you know how it is. Sometimes you're just curious about the source. Or sometimes you'd just prefer to read. Bookworm Child resolutely decided that the book was better than the movie. Either way, it's a fun and unique story. But, having experienced both renderings, I can affirm they've done an excellent job with the movie. They retained the perfect mood, didn't leave out any good bits, and really added to the story with the stunning visuals.

One of these days I'll get around to reading one of Gaiman's books for grown-ups. Which one should I start with?


Charley said...

I thought Coraline was such a fun character in the book, and her animated character was fantastic. But I could only watch a few minutes with the 3D glasses before I felt a bit ill.

Kristi said...

I have the book at home and haven't read it. I bought the movie more than a year ago and it's still in it's packaging. You're post is giving me the push I need. I definitely want to read the book first, though. It's nice to hear your daughter enjoyed it. I've been wanting my oldest boy to pick it up.

mummazappa said...

I haven't read this yet, but I love all the Neil Gaiman stuff I've read. I'm pretty sure it's a case of 'pick a book any book' they're all brilliant. Stardust is prolly my favourite.

Lesa said...

I think I have read and enjoyed almost all Gaiman's works-- even his short stories in his own anthologies and other anthologies.

Actually, I just read a kid one that will be in a BBB post soon that wasn't too weird but still fun.

As for adult: My faves are Neverwhere, Stardust and Good Omens. Good Omens is a collaboration with Terry Pratchett and is crazy funny-- especially if you are into brit humor. An angel and demon team up to prevent the end times and zaniness ensues...

So it you are in the mood for funny start with Good Omens-- fairy/folk tale start with Stardust-- fantasy start with Neverwhere.


Avid Reader said...

I loved this one (and the movie). Gaiman is wonderful and I would recommend Stardust as your next read of his. It has a fantasy story, but in the humorous vein of The Princess Bride.

Nymeth said...

I agree, the movie adaptation was excellent! And I second Avid Reader's recommendation for Stardust. Gaiman is my favourite author and I love everything he's written, but I think Stardust might make the best entry point.

Jessica said...

I have this book and the movie and I haven't read/seen either! glad you loved then as I love stuff like this

DeLynne said...

Kathy, It's good of you to say to check your kids' sensitivities before reading/watching Coraline. My girls are EXTRA delicate, and my then 8 year old was traumatized by watching an advertising clip on the Total Girl website. For weeks she cried herself to sleep with her hands over her little eyes. No buttons for her!

anothercookiecrumbles said...

I loved this book (and the movie). I've not read anything else by Gaiman, but I do want to read more of his works. All in good time...

As for books on rainbows and unicorns - what's wrong with that? ;)

Emily said...

Chiming in late here...
I read and loved Coraline also, and tried again with American Gods, but it just didn't have that same weirdness factor. But I may pick it up again, owing to the good reviews..

Kathy said...

Charley--I know my kids have watched the DVD in 3D but I haven't tried it. I bet it would have the same effect on me, too. Maybe you'll get a chance to watch it in 2D!

Kristi--it's a short one, I bet you could read it in one day. Hope you enjoy both the book and the movie! And, is it my imagination or is that a new pic of you? You look great!

Zap--I think I've seen the movie version of Stardust (the one with Ben Barnes, right?)--have you? Just wondered how it compared to the book.

Lesa--thanks so much for the suggestions--I'd already had Neverwhere recommended to me, so I have a copy of that one just waiting for me to get around to reading it!

AR--kind of funny, I LOVE the Princess Bride movie but the book didn't quite live up to my expectations. I can't remember why. I guess Stardust isn't like that, though?

Nymeth--wow, another Stardust recommendation! I'm feeling the peer pressure! Thanks for chiming in. I'm ready to cave.

Jess--you and Kristi ought to get together and watch the movie. :) I hope you enjoy both the movie and the book!

DeLynne--your poor girl! I'm so glad she's gotten past that. (I bet you are too!)

Cookie--*giggle* I guess I shouldn't be intolerant of rainbows and unicorns. But my daughter has a bunch of "My Secret Unicorn" books that I don't think I could stomach. Coraline looked much more fun.

Emily--never too late! :) I've heard American Gods was good too. I hope you like it more on your second try!