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Monday, June 10, 2002

From the Kirkus journal of book reviews... A starred review (which is a good thing):

*STAR*Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. HarperCollins (176 pp.) $15.99. PLB $15.89.
Jul. 1, 2002. ISBN: 0-380-97778-8. PLB: 0-06-623744-0.

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a
soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door. Coraline's
parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses
herself by exploring her family's new flat. A drawing-room door that opens
onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and
she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and
Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with
skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman's (American
Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman
graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child's fears-and the child's
ability to overcome those fears. "I will be brave," thinks Coraline, "No, I
am brave." When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen
her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her,
she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her
wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child's-eye
perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or
to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her
parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept
and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child's
ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of
her own-and every child's own-reality. As Corline's quest picks up its
pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more
monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing. Not for
the faint-hearted-who are mostly adults anyway-but for stouthearted kids who
love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)
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