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Coraline (Spanish) Paperback – 20 Dec 2008
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`Beautiful and haunting ... A master modern fable'
-- Waterstone's Guide to Kid's Books, February 2009
About the Author
Neil Gaiman is the multi-award-winning and bestselling author of Stardust, also a major motion film. Coraline was Neil's first novel for young adults. Neil is British and lives in the USA.
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The story, of course, centres around the summer holiday adventures of its titular heroine - young Coraline Jones - who, along with her mother and father, has moved into one of the flats in a ramshackle old house in the wilds of the country. Coraline's parents work from home but are busy people; and as I suspect is the case with many youngsters nowadays, they just don't seem to have enough time in the day to spare their daughter the attention she craves. Her mother automatically buys Coraline 'sensible' clothes - never the clothes her daughter actually wants to wear; and her father - a worryingly clueless sort of 'home husband' - is an experimental but terrible cook, and never serves anything to table that Coraline wants to eat.
The upstairs flat is occupied by the eccentrically acrobatic Mr Bobo - a moustachioed Eastern European with a penchant for training a troublesome musical mouse circus; the downstairs flat is shared by two ageing but rather highly strung former thespian spinsters - Miss Forcible and Miss Spink - together with their phlegmatic Highland Terriers: Hamish, Andrew, and Jock. But diverting though these neighbours may at first appear, is it any wonder that a bold and curious young girl like Coraline should want to go adventuring - exactly as a haughty black cat asserts his right to go wandering far and wide about the place, as though he owns it?
It's then that Coraline becomes captivated by the carved, brown wooden door in the drawing room - a locked door, which when released shows only a plain brick wall... Or does it...? In fact, the door leads to another world entirely - and to another house, which looks very much like her own. It also leads to another kindly father and another doting mother, neither of whom can seemingly do enough for lonely little Coraline - providing her with feasts of delicious food and the brightly coloured clothes she has always most desired; but just one thing:
Why do these alternative parents both have large and shiny-bright black buttons, sewn into place where their eyes must once have been...?
I won't go into much more detail about the plot because that would surely spoil the experience for those coming to the novel afresh. Suffice it to say that Coraline has quite a torrid time of it in trying to escape from her 'Other Mother' (otherwise known as the mysterious 'Beldam'), and that - with the help of one very formidable black cat, as previously mentioned - tries endlessly to return to her real mother and father, with whom she now desperately longs to be reunited.
'Coraline' is, of course, a typically imaginative piece of fiction from the distinguished and individual mind of Neil Gaiman. What really works in its favour, I think, is that Mr Gaiman thankfully refrains from those sensational excesses that too often find their way into his adult fictions for no better reason than their shock value, but which often end up being something more of a blight than a blessing. 'Coraline' can, in fact, be rightly celebrated for being a joyously restrained creation - a book about which no parent need concern themeselves too much when it comes to letting their children read it independently. I must also commend the illustrations by Chris Riddell, which grace the 10th Anniversary Edition that I bought - though perhaps the confined reading medium of my Kindle didn't quite do them justice!
A guaranteed page turner!
There's only one thing she hasn't explored: the little door in the spare room where her grandmother's furniture is kept 'for best'. Her mother begrudgingly unlocks and opens the door to show a brick wall where it blocks off the empty flat next door. When her mother is out shopping Coraline unlocks the little door herself for another look. Instead of opening onto a brick wall, the door opens to reveal a long dark corridor. Curiosity gets the better of her and she crawls through it.
On the other side of the corridor she crawls out into the flat she just left, but it's different somehow. Her parents are there, but they are different. The Other Mother is taller, thinner, 'her teeth a little too long' and her hair flows around her head. And in the place of eyes are two shiny black buttons. She cooks Coraline the food she always loves, in her other bedroom is a toybox full of toys she loves and in her wardrobe all the kinds of clothes she loves. This world is more interesting and fun, and her parents want to spend time with her. The black cat hasn't changed much in the other world, but it can speak. It tells her to not trust this world and not trust the Other Mother. Everything is not as it seems.
And that is how the little girl spirals into this dark web crafted by the Other Mother to keep her here for herself. What does she really want? Why is she trying to get rid of the cat, 'that vermin', who is the only one telling her any truths?
This is a wonderfully wicked tale that will creep out the adults and fascinate the children. It is one of my favourite books, and if you loved the film you will love this even more as there are differences that strengthens the original story. Extra note: once you've read the book, if you want more then search for 'Coraline theories' on youtube for plenty more mysteries.
Coraline discovers a little door in the new house she's moved into, which leads her to her other mother who has big black buttons for eyes... It's thoroughly weird and captivating all at once and the drawings by Chris Riddell are so creepy (except the cat) and definitely add to the reading experience.
My favourite character is definitely the cat!! He's so the star of the show and so sassy I love it. It's definitely a book worth reading and a film worth seeing! A fantastic story and did I say how awesome the cat is?
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