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Author: Neil Gaiman
Books like Coraline regularly get banned for being too dark for young kids. Which is crap, because this is the kind of freaked-out, completely creepy book that kids eat up with a spoon. The problem is, it's too dark for their parents.
Coraline's got an okay life . . . not really ideal, though. She's just moved into a new flat (apartment, for us Yanks) and she doesn't know anyone but her parents and the neighbors. The two old ladies downstairs can't stop talking about their acting days, and the old man upstairs is training up a mouse circus. And they all insist on calling her "Caroline" . . . ugh. To make things worse, her parents (while affectionate) work at home all day long, and tell her to make her own fun. Sigh. So she explores.
The first time she opens the weird little door in the middle of the sitting room, it's bricked up. The second time, though, it's not. Instead, it leads to . . . somewhere else. Somewhere where there is another mother, and another father, who look just like hers but give her everything she wants. Normal food instead of her real father's weird recipes, all the coolest toys instead of "make your own fun." At first, the black buttons they have in place of eyes don't even bother her.
But soon she gets the feeling something's seriously wrong, especially when she goes back to the real world and discovers that her real mum and dad are missing. Who is the other mother? And why is she so insistent on keeping Coraline in the non-world, where everything beyond her house vanishes into mist?
Coraline doesn't know, nor does she know how she's going to beat the other mother and get her real parents back. But she's about to find out.
Coraline is the kind of no-nonsense, cool-headed kid we'd all love to be. Even though she initially follows the siren call of an ideal life, she's got the sense to see when things aren't what they seem, and to wonder why. The book is somewhat slow-moving, but that's deceptive. It's very hard to stop reading, mostly because of the creepy factor, which crawls up your spine and lodges itself in the deepest corner of your mind, the one that still knows there are things under your bed unless the lights are on. The angular pen-and-ink illustrations by Dave McKean help this along. I defy anyone not to be creeped out by the drawing of the other mother. Urrrgh!!
You have to read this book to the end. Don't put it down in the middle, or it will haunt you the rest of your life. Yes, it makes all the hairs on your body stand on end, but when you reach "THE END" you have the most incredibly satisfied feeling. Neil Gaiman is good at what he does.