Coraline is a fantasy/horror novella by British author Neil Gaiman, published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and Harper Collins. It was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. It has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and has been adapted into a 2009 stop-motion film directed by Henry Selick.
As the tale begins, Coraline Jones and her parents move into an old Queen Anne style house that has been subdivided into four flats. The other tenants include Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, two elderly women retired from the stage, and the Crazy Old Man Upstairs (later, he is revealed to be named Mr. Bobinsky), an eccentric acrobat who is training a jumping mouse circus.
During a rainy day, in which Coraline is not permitted to explore outside (her favorite pastime), she discovers a locked door in the drawing room, which has been bricked up. As she goes to visit her neighbors, the Crazy Old Man Upstairs relates to her a message from the mice: do not go through the door. At tea with Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, Miss Spink spies danger in Coraline’s future after reading her tea leaves, and bequeaths to her a seeing stone for protection.
Despite these warnings, Coraline decides to unlock the door when she is home by herself and finds the brick wall behind the door gone. In its place is a long passageway, which leads to a flat identical to the one she just left, inhabited by her Other Mother and Other Father; replicas of her real parents with button eyes. In this “Other World”, Coraline finds everything to be better than her reality: her toy box is filled with animate toys that can move and fly, the Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible forever perform a cabaret show in their flat, the Crazy Old Man Upstairs and his trained mice perform just for her. She even finds the mangy Black Cat that wandered around the house in the real world can talk, however she learns he is not of the Other World and has come to warn Coraline of the imminent danger, but Coraline pays it no heed.
The Other Mother offers Coraline a chance to stay in the Other World forever…if Coraline will allow buttons to be sewn into her eyes. Coraline is horrified and dashes back through the door to go home, much to the disappointment of the Other Mother. Upon her return to her apartment, Coraline finds that her real parents are missing, and when they do not return the next day, she deduces that the Other Mother has kidnapped them. Though frightened of returning, Coraline goes back to the Other World to rescue her parents and confronts the Other Mother. The Other Mother tries to convince Coraline to stay, but Coraline refuses, and is locked behind a mirror as punishment.
In the darkness, she meets three ghost children, each from a different era, who let the Beldam (the Other Mother) sew buttons in their eyes. They tell her how she eventually grew bored of them, ate their bodies, and cast their spirits aside. The ghost children implore Coraline to avoid their fate, and to help find their souls so that they can leave the Other World and pass on.
When the Other Mother finally releases Coraline from behind the mirror, Coraline is prompted by the Cat to challenge the Other Mother, as, “her kind of thing loves games and challenges.” Coraline proposes a game in which she must find the ghost children’s souls and her parents, which lay hidden throughout the Other World. If Coraline wins, she, her parents, and the ghost children may go free. If not, Coraline will let the Other Mother sew the buttons into her eyes.
Coraline goes through the Other World, and overcomes all the Other Mother’s obstacles, using her wits and Miss Spink’s seeing stone to locate the ghost children’s souls and her parents. At the close of the game, the ghost children warn her that even if Coraline wins, the Other Mother will not let them go. Having deduced that her parents are imprisoned in the snow globe on the mantle, Coraline tricks the Other Mother by saying that her parents are behind the little door in the drawing room. As the Other Mother opens the door, Coraline grabs the snow globe, throws the cat at the Other Mother, and escapes to the real world with the key. In doing so, she forces the door shut on the other mother's hand, severing it. Back in her home, Coraline finds her parents safe and sound.
That night, Coraline has a dream in which she meets the three children before they move on to the afterlife. They warn her that her task is still not done: the other mother's severed hand is still in Coraline's world, attempting to steal the key that opens the door that connects the two worlds. Coraline goes to an old well in the woods by her house, luring the Other Mother’s hand there with the key, and casts both down the bottomless well. Coraline returns home, victorious, and prepares to go about the ordinary life she has come to accept and love.
- Coraline Jones – The young heroine and explorer. She is intelligent, curious, resourceful, and courageous. Coraline is often irritated by rain, crazy grown-ups (as they all seem to be), and not being taken seriously because of her young age and quiet demeanor, though perhaps her biggest annoyance is that everyone mistakes her name for Caroline (everyone in the real world at least, except the mice and her parents).
- Mrs. Mel Jones – Coraline's mother works at her house on the computer. She is very busy most of the time, and sometimes a little inattentive, but she loves and cares about Coraline. She is pretty, nice, and helpful, though Coraline considers her to be rather boring. Coraline also gets annoyed with her real mother because she doesn't seem to want to let Coraline "fit in".
- Mr. Charlie Jones– Coraline's father works at his house on the computer which he spends most of his time on his job. He cares about Coraline very much and is kind, gentlemanly, brave, and helpful. But, like her mother, Coraline finds him rather boring. He also makes interesting food creations that Coraline stongly dislikes. This makes Coraline very upset, which is also why she likes the other world at first.
- The Cat – A black cat from Coraline's world. The cat acts as a mentor to Coraline and guides her through her journey. He claims to have no name, explaining that cats do not need names to tell each other apart. Unlike many of the characters in the novel, he does not have an "other world" counterpart, saying that unlike other creatures in the world, cats can "keep themselves together". He moves freely from one world to the next, although he can talk in the other mother's world. He is very sarcastic, though helpful towards Coraline. He's defiant of the other mother, but seems to tremble at the thought of being stuck in the Other Mother's world. He befriends Coraline and helps her escape from the other mother.
- The Other Mother/The Beldam – The creature that created much of the Other World and the main villain of the novel. She looks a little like Coraline's real mother but taller and thinner, with long black hair that seems to move by itself, black button eyes, paper-white skin, and extremely long, twitchy fingers with long dark red nails, and teeth as sharp as knives. She cannot create, but only copy, twist and change things from the real world when constructing her version of it. She collects children, with whom she quickly becomes bored or frustrated, and imprisons them behind a magical mirror, slowly sucking the life from them. She is referred to several times as "the Beldam", a Middle English word meaning "Grandmother," "Ugly Old Woman," or "Hag".
- The Other Father – A creation of the Other Mother, who was used to try to help trick Coraline into staying in the other mother's world. Like her real father he has a study and sits there during the day and will not talk to Coraline for long. He does not work however, he merely occupies the study as he is not permitted to talk to Coraline by himself. He is much more fun than Coraline's real father and always tries to be cheerful and fun in front of Coraline. In reality the Other Father is sad and nervous. The Other Mother ends up punishing him for revealing too much to Coraline by transforming him into a grub-like creature, and orders the Other Father to trap Coraline so she cannot win her challenge, but Coraline escapes. It makes Coraline feel sorry that he was just the other mother's little puppet, but she has to move on.
- Miss April Spink and Miss Miriam Forcible – A pair of retired actresses, who live in the flat under Coraline's. They own many ageing Scotties, such as Hamish, Angus and Jock, and talk in theater jargon, often referencing their time as actresses. They recognize the danger Coraline is in after reading her fortune through tea leaves and give her a stone with a hole in it to help protect her. In the other world they are young, pretty, and perform unendingly in front of many different dogs, who, in the Other World, behave like humans, such as talking and eating chocolate (which can kill dogs in real life).
- Mr. Bobo – A retired circus performer living in the flat above Coraline's; he is commonly referred to as the Crazy Old Man Upstairs. Over the course of the book he claims to be training mice to perform in a mouse circus, and often brings Coraline messages from them, though at first Coraline doubts he even has mice to train, and doesn't listen to what he says to be messages from the mice. His counterpart in the Other World trains rats, and is in fact made of rats.
- The Three Ghost Children – A trio of children who were previously victims of the Other Mother, two girls and one boy. The boy is described as having a dirty face and red trousers. One of the girls has two butterfly wings, blond hair, and a silver circlet, the other has a brown bonnet and brown dress. They were trapped by the other mother at different times before Coraline, and reside in the dark space behind the mirror. After having their souls restored, they go to the afterlife, but not before meeting Coraline for a last time, in a dream where she picnics with them. Here, she sees their true appearances and they thank her for freeing them from the Other Mother. It is also shown that the winged girl eats flowers as food.
With the help of the animation studio Laika, director Henry Selick released a stop motion film adaptation in 2009, to generally positive reviews. At the 82nd Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature.
A theatrical adaptation, with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt and book by David Greenspan, premiered on May 6, 2009, produced by MCC Theater and True Love Productions off-Broadway at The Lucille Lortel Theatre. The production used non-traditional casting; an adult, Jayne Houdyshell, played the title role of the child.
A video game adaptation, based on the film, was published and developed by D3 Publisher of America. The game was released on January 27, 2009 for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Wii platforms and contains features such as playing as Coraline, interacting with other characters, and playing minigames. The game received mostly negative reviews.
- ↑ "The Hugo Awards : 2003 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- ↑ "The Nebula Awards". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- ↑ "Past Stoker Nominees & Winners". Horror Writers Association. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
- ↑ P. Craig Russell - Adapting Coraline and More, Newsarama, August 19, 2008
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Blankenship, Mark (2009-06-07). "The Score and the Story, Inseparable". New York Times. pp. AR4.
- Chapter One
- Audiobook page from publisher, with audio excerpt
- Coraline video interview
- "The Other Mother" Guardian review by Philip Pullman
- Rudd, David "An Eye for an 'I': Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and the Question of Identity" Children’s Literature and Education 39(3), 2008, pp. 159–168
- The Lesson of Coraline - Business Week article about Polyjet Matrix in Coraline animation
- Template:Iobdb show
- Coraline Blu-ray 2D & 3D disc review by Christian Hokenson
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