I have just finished this deliciously scary story which I’d highly recommend! The film comes out in the UK on May the 8th and should be fabulous (in all the senses of that word). Neil Gaiman is a illustrator and storyteller extraordinaire who has created the “Sandman” series of graphic novels and New York Times bestsellers “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys” as well as screenplays for films. Coraline was writen in 2002 for children of all ages and draws on the fairy tale traditions of the Brothers Grimm. It has now been produced as “stop animation” film directed by Henry Selick.
Coraline or Caroline?
The brave heroine of the tale is a young girl whose parents love her but are too busy to help alleviate her boredom at the end of the school holidays. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? She has no friends and the neighbours can’t even get her name right! So she sets out to explores the “gothic” house into which they have just moved and discovers a hidden world behind a bricked up doorway. On the far side she meets her “Other Mother” who wants to give her a perfect life. But is having your every wish fulfilled just too sinister? And why does her other mother have black buttons where her eyes should be?
Who am I? Why is Life scary?
Gaiman explores the issues of identity, the risky nature of being alive, the loss of significant others and the power of the imagination to heal in this fantastical novel. The spare, powerful prose is filled with a cornucopia of sardonic cats, souls of dead children hidden in marbles and armless hands that scuttle in dark corners.
Coraline carries a scary warning for adults reading it! Apparently children can cope quite well with the horror but adults find it deeply distressing. I can’t say it gave me nightmares though.
Use in the English and Drama Curriculum
This story could be used by teachers who are studying the fairy story genre or as an example of modern gothic for sixthformers. It also bears comparison with Alice in Wonderland with its references to mirrors.
There are two amazing websites to support the book and the film respectively. At the latter I had the chance to button my own image – results displayed above!