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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
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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.