When I first got into the bookish community I kept hearing about how I absolutely had to read all of Neil Gaiman’s books. I found out he was a lot of people’s auto-buy authors. So I decided I would try him out. The first Gaiman I read was The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I liked this book a lot and read it in one sitting (it is less than 200 pages). When I finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane I became interested in some of his other novels. I picked up Coraline because I wanted Mays (my son) to be able to read Gaiman too and I was interested to see how his writing style and storytelling would translate to middle grade readers.
Coraline is a story of a curious, restless, and mischievous little girl who moves into a new apartment with her parents in England. Coraline’s parents are not really interested in what she does because they are workaholics. Trying to stay entertained she finds herself exploring the old apartment house and gets into a little bit of trouble. We are then thrust into a world with weird and wacky neighbors, alternate universes, and lost souls. Like the first Gaiman I read, I was delightfully creeped out and enthralled by the story. Coraline is a cautionary tale for children about how the grass isn’t always greener, to be brave, and to listen to your parents.
I would recommend Coraline for 2nd grade and up. I enjoyed Coraline as a protagonist. I felt she was a very realistic character in this wacky and fantastical story. This is a great introductory chapter book for early readers. The chapters are short and the illustrations throughout the book aide in the world building and atmosphere. This would also be a good read aloud book for those same reasons. I’m not sure I would recommend this story for pre-k and kindergarten children. The story is interesting and engaging. I would not consider this book “scary” but I would again use the word creepy. There are no scenes that particular stand out to me that need to be forewarned or that would catch a parent off guard.
Coraline would be a fun book for you and your child. As an adult who reads a little bit of everything, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!
movie adaptation: Coraline (2009)