Date reviewed: 4/5/04
Summary: Coraline is bored and her parents are too busy or self-absorbed to be helpful. Coraline lives in an apartment with strange neighbors: Above, a man who trains mice; and below, two women with prissy dogs; a stray black cat remains aloof. Coraline hears strange noises. One day, she unlocks a locked door in the apartment that opens onto a brick wall (seemingly) and then soon finds her parents missing. The locked door is a portal to an alternate evil universe where her other mother, with black lifeless button eyes, wants Caroline to stay forever. Caroline must outwit the other mother in a deadly game to find her lost parents and free the spirit children who have been previously captured.
Personal Reaction: Very creepy – will keep kids in suspense! (*Audiobook is especially effective – author is narrator, accent is delicious!)
Suitable for Read Aloud? Perhaps – it is a bit long, but I think highly enjoyable. Would recommend for upper elementary and lower middle grades.
Points for discussion with children: fantasy vs. reality; self-reliance, courage
Possible classroom uses: An enjoyable novel, not curriculum related. At best, a moderate discussion of equivalent words in separate English vocabularies (like a flat vs. an apartment).
Realia: black buttons; black beetles (in a Chinese food take out box), stuffed black cat; stuffed poodle and/or mice; snowball shaker globe; large black key on a chain; black tea leaves at the bottom of a teacup, stone with a hole in it, spoons and needle&thread; if you have a copy of the movie, add that to the display as well
Food items connected to story: roasted chicken, fried potatoes, green peas; mini-pizzas, chips/fries