Coraline

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Coraline Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Strange, surreal tale sure to creep kids out.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 79 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This is a book that will certainly push kids' imaginations. The publisher has put out a nice reading guide for parents and teachers who want to analyze the plot more closely. Our "Families Can Talk About" section can give you some other ideas for sharpening those critical-thinking skills. 

Positive Messages

Coraline finds the brave person inside of her -- and also learns to appreciate her own family. Toward the end of the book, she even says "I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if we just got everything we wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?"

Positive Role Models & Representations

Coraline is a pretty relatable character -- she gets bored, is picky about food, etc. -- but ultimately she acts bravely and uses her smarts to not only save herself but also others the Other Mother trapped, including her parents.

Violence & Scariness

A rat is decapitated by a cat. Coraline is chased by weird creatures. There are lots of rats, spiders, clammy rooms, mysterious threatening beings, and other typical haunted house elements. 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Neil Gaiman's Coraline is pretty creepy, and could be disturbing for sensitive kids: The central adventure is about a girl trying to save herself, her parents, and other trapped souls from the Other Mother in a secret world. But this is a good choice for kids who like horror stories -- and whose parents would prefer it be well-written and not too gruesome. Coraline discovers a dark world crawling with rats, spiders, strange creatures, and others spookiness -- but through her creepy adventures she also discovers her own inner bravery. The book was adapted for the 2009 movie Coraline

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byErin W. May 19, 2018

Coraline

My daughter began reading this at school and decided she needed to stop because she was having nightmares. I decided to read through it to see what it was like... Continue reading
Adult Written byMary C April 6, 2018

Weird and scary

If you like dark mysterious horror stories, then this book is for you. I found as an adult reading this book a bit weird and spooked out. Not recommended for c... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycolorsgirl May 21, 2012

Fun story, disturbing implications

I think it's the first time CSM has ever given something a rating that's too low. Coraline isn't violent, sexual or inappropriate in any way othe... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRat123 April 25, 2020

Great story!

I really enjoyed this book and loved the unique and unusual story, I think Coraline is a good role model as she saves her family and try’s to always do what’s r... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Coraline's new house, she discovers a door that sometimes opens onto a brick wall and sometimes doesn't. Venturing through, she discovers a world that mirrors her own, though the mirror is disturbingly distorted. There's more fun and better food, but her parents and neighbors are reflected with troubling differences. Returning to her own home, Coraline finds that her real parents are missing, only appearing in the hallway mirror. With the help of a cat that can talk in the mirror world, Coraline returns to rescue her parents -- as well as the souls of other children that she finds imprisoned in the world through the door -- from the fiendish Other Mother.

Is it any good?

Gaiman is well known in the world of adult literature, but this is his first book for children, and it's a strange, surrealistic tale -- fun for kids who like their stories creepy. The black-and-white illustrations by Dave McKean are correspondingly sinister. Not everything will make sense to young readers, nor will they find the emotional heart that marks children's classics -- but they will find Coraline to be a brave character who uses her smarts to not only save herself, but also others the Other Mother trapped. Plus, the plot rolls along fairly unpredictably -- and with a few good scares. Ultimately, not awe-inspiring, but entertaining enough.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can about scary stories. like Coraline. What makes them fun? Thinking of other chilling tales you've heard, can you think of anything they have in common?

  • This author often writes for adults, too. What makes a book better suited for a kid or an adult? Do you think both can enjoy Coraline?

  • What do you think is the scariest part of the story?

Book details

For kids who love the scary stuff

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