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Library Journal Review
When Coraline's family moves into a new home, she explores every corner and closet, looking for adventure. On the other side of a locked door is a new world and a new set of parents waiting to care for her.Figures with black button eyes, they want to make her their own little girl "for ever and always"; all they need is a needle and thread. On returning to her home, Coraline discovers that she must save the souls of her real family from her "other" parents. Why It Is Great: Neil Gaiman (American Gods) takes his dark mastery of horror down a peg for younger readers but keeps the tension alive. Why It Is for Us: Busy parents beware. What magic can your children get into while you have your back turned? [A new edition, illustrated by P. Craig Russell, has just been issued: ISBN 978-0-06-082543-0. $18.99.--Ed.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
British novelist Gaiman (American Gods; Stardust) and his long-time accomplice McKean (collaborators on a number of Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels as well as The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish) spin an electrifyingly creepy tale likely to haunt young readers for many moons. After Coraline and her parents move into an old house, Coraline asks her mother about a mysterious locked door. Her mother unlocks it to reveal that it leads nowhere: "When they turned the house into flats, they simply bricked it up," her mother explains. But something about the door attracts the girl, and when she later unlocks it herself, the bricks have disappeared. Through the door, she travels a dark corridor (which smells "like something very old and very slow") into a world that eerily mimics her own, but with sinister differences. "I'm your other mother," announces a woman who looks like Coraline's mother, except "her eyes were big black buttons." Coraline eventually makes it back to her real home only to find that her parents are missing--they're trapped in the shadowy other world, of course, and it's up to their scrappy daughter to save them. Gaiman twines his taut tale with a menacing tone and crisp prose fraught with memorable imagery ("Her other mother's hand scuttled off Coraline's shoulder like a frightened spider"), yet keeps the narrative just this side of terrifying. The imagery adds layers of psychological complexity (the button eyes of the characters in the other world vs. the heroine's increasing ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not; elements of Coraline's dreams that inform her waking decisions). McKean's scratchy, angular drawings, reminiscent of Victorian etchings, add an ominous edge that helps ensure this book will be a real bedtime-buster. Ages 8-up.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 6-8-When Coraline and her parents move into a new house, she notices a mysterious, closed-off door. It originally went to another part of the house, which her family does not own. Some rather eccentric neighbors call her Caroline and seem not to understand her very well, yet they have information for her that will later prove vital. Bored, she investigates the door, which takes her into an alternate reality. There she meets her "other" mother and father. They are very nice to her, which pleases Coraline but also makes her a little suspicious. Her neighbors are in this other world, and they are the same, yet somehow different. When Coraline gets nervous and returns home, her parents are gone. With the help of a talking cat, she figures out that they are being held prisoner by her other parents, as are the souls of some long-lost children. Coraline's plan to rescue them involves, among other things, making a risky bargain with her other mother whose true nature is beginning to show. The rest of the story is a suspense-filled roller coaster, and the horror is all the more frightening for being slightly understated. A droll humor is present in some of the scenes, and the writing is simple yet laden with foreboding. 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. This is just right for all those requests for a scary book.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 5-8. Coraline has recently moved with her preoccupied parents into a flat in an old house. The neighbors above and below are odd but friendly: Mr. Bobo trains mice; elderly Misses Spink and Forcible serve her tea and tell her fortune. No one lives in the flat next door. But Coraline knows better, and one evening she discovers what's there: a tantalizing alternate world, filled with toys and food (unlike any of the boring stuff she has at home) and weird-- though wonderfully attentive--parents, who happen to have black button eyes sewn on with dark thread. Although her «other parents» beg her to stay, she decides to leave, but by doing so Coraline sets in motion a host of nightmarish events that she must remedy alone. Gaiman, well known for his compelling adult horror novels (see «The Booklist Interview,» opposite), seems less sure of himself with a younger age group. His «nowhere wonderland» setting (think Alice on acid) is magical, deliciously eerie, and well captured in the text and in McKean's loose, angular sketches. But the goings-on are murky enough to puzzle some kids and certainly creepy enough to cause a few nightmares (ignore the publisher's suggestion that this is suitable for eight-year-olds). What's more, Coraline is no naive Alice. She's a bundle of odd contradictions that never seem to gel--confident, outspoken, self-sufficient one moment; a whiny child the next. Gaiman's construct offers a chilling and empowering view of children, to be sure, but young readers are likely to miss such subtleties as the clever allusions to classic horror movies and the references to the original dark tales by the Brothers Grimm. Gaiman has written an often-compelling horror novel, but, as with so many adult authors who attempt to reach young readers, his grasp of his audience is less sure than his command of his material. Stephanie Zvirin.
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) Out of sorts in her new home, Coraline finds a bricked-up door in the drawing room and, when her mother is out for the afternoon, discovers the bricks have gone and she can pass through to a very similar house with an ""other mother"" and an ""other father."" These two creepy specimens (with paper-white skin and black button eyes) want her to stay and be their little girl. Back in her own home, Coraline waits in vain for her parents to return, until at last she catches sight of a mirror image of them and determines she must head back into the alternate house to try to rescue them. What started out as a world set slightly askew turns nightmarish as Coraline joins the other mother in a game of hide-and-seek for her parents-winner take all. Images (white grub-like creatures in cobwebs; a toy box full of wind-up angels and tiny chatter-mouthed dinosaur skulls; the ubiquitous shiny black button eyes pictured in McKean's occasional dark and unsettling sketches as actual buttons) fly at the reader thick and fast, fully evoking the irrational yet unperturbing world of dreams, creating an avant-garde cinematic sweep of charged and often horrific flotsam from the subconscious. One wishes for a little more backstory to add depth and unity to the disparate images and a little more structure around the identity of the other mother (it turns out she resembles a kind of trap-door spider for souls, although exactly what she is or why she set up shop in Coraline's drawing room is left unstated). Still, the danger is convincingly dangerous, the heroine is convincingly brave, and the whirlwind denouement (helped along by a friendly cat and a rather clever ploy on the part of Coraline) will leave readers bemused but elated and slightly breathless. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
A deliciously dark graphic adaptation of Gaiman's modern classic is delivered with pitch-perfect accuracy and presented in a striking palette. Staying true to the original text, Russell's adaptation follows young Coraline Jones as she discovers a strange door in her otherwise boring flat. Once over the door's mysterious threshold, she meets her ghastly "Other Mother," a horrid-looking beldam with sinister, button eyes, long, yellowed teeth, spindly, tapered fingers with sharp, brown nails and a wry, baleful smile. Coraline's Other Mother intends to keep her in this horrible new world forever, and captures her real parents, prompting young Coraline to seek them out in this strange dimension. Russell, a veteran illustrator and collaborator with Gaiman, makes the novel positively jump off the page, sending shivers down its readers' spines. Colorist Lovern Kindzierski deserves special kudos for utilizing a masterful array of hues, working in smart synchronicity with the nuances of the tale. A stellar reworking of the original text, this is sure to delight established fans and to mesmerize newcomers. (Graphic fiction. 10 & up) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.