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Coraline Cover




Fairy Tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
G.K. Chesterton

Chapter One

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

It was a very old house — it had an attic under the roof and a cellar under the ground and an overgrown garden with huge old trees in it.

Coraline's family didn't own all of the house, it was too big for that. Instead they owned part of it.

There were other people who lived in the old house.

Miss Spink and Miss Forcible lived in the flat below Coraline's, on the ground floor. They were both old and round, and they lived in their flat with a number of ageing highland terriers who had names like Hamish and Andrew and Jock. Once upon a time Miss Spink and Miss Forcible had been actresses, as Miss Spink told Coraline the first time she met her.

"You see, Caroline," Miss Spink said, getting Coraline's name wrong, "Both myself and Miss Forcible were famous actresses, in our time. We trod the boards, luvvy. Oh, don't let Hamish eat the fruit cake, or he'll be up all night with his tummy."

"It's Coraline. Not Caroline. Coraline," said Coraline.

In the flat above Coraline's, under the roof, was a crazy old man with a big moustache. He told Coraline that he was training a mouse circus. He wouldn't let anyone see it.

"One day, little Caroline, when they are all ready, everyone in the whole world will see the wonders of my mouse circus. You ask me why you cannot see it now. Is that what you asked me?"

"No," said Coraline quietly, "I asked you not to call me Caroline. It's Coraline."

"The reason you cannot see the Mouse Circus," said the man upstairs, "is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese."

Coraline didn't think there really was a mouse circus. She thought the old man was probably making it up.

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring.

She explored the garden. It was a big garden: at the very back was an old tennis court, but no-one in the house played tennis and the fence around the court had holes in it and the net had mostly rotted away; there was an old rose garden, filled with stunted, flyblown rose-bushes; there was a rockery that was all rocks; there was a fairy ring, made of squidgy brown toadstools which smelled dreadful if you accidentally trod on them.

There was also a well. Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, on the first day Coraline's family moved in, and warned her to be sure she kept away from it. So Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly.

She found it on the third day, in an overgrown meadow beside the tennis court, behind a clump of trees — a low brick circle almost hidden in the high grass. The well had been covered up by wooden boards, to stop anyone falling in. There was a small knot-hole in one of the boards, and Coraline spent an afternoon dropping pebbles and acorns through the hole, and waiting, and counting, until she heard the plop as they hit the water, far below.

Coraline also explored for animals. She found a hedgehog, and a snake-skin (but no snake), and a rock that looked just like a frog, and a toad that looked just like a rock.

There was also a haughty black cat, who would sit on walls and tree stumps, and watch her; but would slip away if ever she went over to try to play with it.

That was how she spent her first two weeks in the house — exploring the garden and the grounds.

Her mother made her come back inside for dinner, and for lunch; and Coraline had to make sure she dressed up warm before she went out, for it was a very cold summer that year; but go out she did, exploring, every day until the day it rained, when Coraline had to stay inside.

"What should I do?" asked Coraline.

"Read a book," said her mother. "Watch a video. Play with your toys. Go and pester Miss Spink or Miss Forcible, or the crazy old man upstairs."

"No," said Coraline. "I don't want to do those things. I want to explore."

"I don't really mind what you do," said Coraline's mother, "as long as you don't make a mess."

Coraline went over to the window and watched the rain come down. It wasn't the kind of rain you could go out in, it was the other kind, the kind that threw itself down from the sky and splashed where it landed. It was rain that meant business, and currently its business was turning the garden into a muddy, wet soup.

Coraline had watched all the videos. She was bored with her toys, and she'd read all her books.

She turned on the television. She went from channel to channel to channel, but there was nothing on but men in suits talking about the stock market, and schools programmes. Eventually, she found something to watch: it was the last half of a natural history programme about something called protective coloration. She watched animals, birds and insects which disguised themselves as leaves or twigs or other animals to escape from things that could hurt them. She enjoyed it, but it ended too soon, and was followed by a programme about a cake factory.

It was time to talk to her father.

Coraline's father was home. Both of her parents worked, doing things on computers, which meant that they were home a lot of the time.

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Amanda Townsend, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Amanda Townsend)
This is a perfect read for the Halloween season - just the right amount of creepiness to set the tone, without scarring you for life. I recommend accompanying your read with some tea and a warm sweater - but try to keep away from one with buttons...
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bookloverxxv, December 19, 2010 (view all comments by bookloverxxv)
Way cool. This is my favorite Gaiman. It's "Alice Through the Looking Glass" with a nasty twist. Lewis Carroll, eat your heart out...
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, December 21, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
This is a cute enough horror/fairy tale, but I'm mystified by the awards it's received. Gaiman's setting is his usual "not here but not quite anywhere else" intersticial world whose distorted and malevolent denizens wish the protagonist no good. Like all hero's journeys, Coraline's includes guides and magical appurtenances (the latter lending a somewhat deus ex machina feel to the proceedings, but hey, it's a fairy tale). The description of the evil characters as having literal button eyes was jarring and took me out of the narrative repeatedly; they belong in a different story. True to his usual concerns, Gaiman gives us an inadequate, cool mother (it's asserted that she's emotionally attractive, but she comes off much less so than the father) and a frightening alter-mother, though it is refreshing to read something from him that is not about a sympathetic male protagonist with an unpleasant, inaccessible female love interest.
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(7 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Illustrations by:
McKean, Dave
McKean, Dave
Loftin, Nikki
Gaiman, Neil
Pratchett, Terry
McKean, Dave
by Neil Gaiman
New York
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Horror & Ghost Stories
Horror stories
Children's 9-12 - Fiction - Horror
Children s All Ages - Fiction - Science Fiction
General Juvenile Fiction
Fantasy & Magic
Children s-Scary Stories
Family - Parents
Edition Number:
1st paperback ed.
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
374 (rev.)
Publication Date:
August 5, 2003
Grade Level:
from 3 up to 7
B/W interior drawings
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Scary Stories » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z

Coraline New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.99 In Stock
Product details 208 pages HarperTrophy - English 9780380807345 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[M]agnificently creepy....[S]ome 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."
"Review" by , "[A]n electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons....Gaiman twines his taught tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery..."
"Review" by , "Not since Narnia has the simple act of opening a door unlocked such a fantastic journey. And not since Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole has that journey been so splendidly strange and frightening."
"Review" by , "Inventive, scary, thrilling, and finally affirmative. Readers young and old will find something to startle them."
"Review" by , "So wonderfully whimsical that readers of all ages will hungrily devour it, word by word....Coraline is destined to become a classic."
"Review" by , "By turns creepy and funny, bittersweet and playful...can be read quickly and enjoyed deeply."
"Review" by , "A modern ghost story with all the creepy trimmings....Well done."
"Review" by , "As we used to say, it blew my mind...chilly, finely-wrought prose, a truly weird setting and a fable that taps into our most uncomfortable fears."
"Review" by , "Coraline may be Gaiman?s most disciplined and fully controlled novel to date, and it may even end up as something of a classic."
"Review" by , "The story is odd, strange, even slightly bizarre, but kids will hang on every word. Coraline is a character with whom they will surely identify, and they will love being frightened out of their shoes."
"Review" by , "This story provides a good edge-of-your-seat read without being terribly frightening. For those children who like to be scared, Gaiman's novel is a well-written alternative to Goosebumps."
"Review" by , "Beautifully spooky. Gaiman actually seems to understand the way children think."
"Review" by , "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, rise to your feet and applaud: Coraline is the real thing."
"Review" by , "This book will send a shiver down your spine, out through your toes, and into a taxi to the airport. It has the delicate horror of the finest fairy tales, and it is a masterpiece."
"Review" by , "I think this book will nudge Alice in Wonderland out of its niche at last. It is the most splendidly original, weird, and frightening book I have read, and yet full of things children will love."
"Review" by , "This book tells a fascinating and disturbing story that frightened me nearly to death. Unless you want to find yourself hiding under your bed, with your thumb in your mouth, trembling with fear and making terrible noises, I suggest that you step very slowly away from this book and go find another source of amusement, such as investigating an unsolved crime or making a small animal out of yarn."
"Synopsis" by ,
An epic taleand#8212;set in a minuscule worldand#8212;written and illustrated by the incomparable award-winning, best-selling author Terry Pratchett.
"Synopsis" by ,

"In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet." Thatand#8217;s the old story everyone knows. But now a new story isand#160;in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpetand#8212;and of two brothers on an adventure to end all adventures.

First published in 1971, this novel marked the debut of Sir Terry Pratchett. Years later, Sir Terry revised the work. This edition includes the updated text, his original illustrations, andand#160;the short story that isand#160;the forerunner to The Carpet People.

"Synopsis" by , "Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. . . ."

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Celebrating ten years of Neil Gaiman's first modern classic for young readers, this edition is enriched with a brand-new foreword from the author, a reader's guide, and more.

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