Coraline

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

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 65 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 this story is pretty creepy, and that they should take caution with 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 want horror 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.

User Reviews

Parent of a 1 and 6 year old Written byjandrewworld June 19, 2010

I think it really depends on your child when they should read it.

Before the film came out, on my little girl's 5th birthday, we read the book together. I had actually bought the book when I was dating my wife. Children d... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 and 9 year old Written byiku_app April 8, 2010
Kid, 10 years old August 16, 2009

Best Neil Gaiman Book EVER!

This book is AMAZING!Some parts are a little creepy (other mother right hand!), but its a really great book! The plot is very intresting and the charecters are... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

you will never think of buttons in the same way again!

i LOVED this book but dont read it at night its REALLY creeeepy and kindof disturbing yet awesome. there was just this one part that scared me half 2 death: whe... 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. 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. What do you think of him as a children's writer? What makes a book better suited for a kid or an adult? Or do you think this is one that both can enjoy?

Book details

For kids who love the scary stuff

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate