TBR Guillotine is a monthly meme created at vicariously&voraciously where we are taking the oldest book on our TBR and either cutting it from the list, or reading and reviewing it. This meme is an effort to go through the older additions to our TBR’s and see if we are really still interested in reading these books, and if we are then we are getting it done. Feel free to join us in this attempt to clear up our extensive TBR lists and maybe even find some backlisted favorites!
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Added to TBR February 11, 2010
Decision: Read and Review
What took so long to read this:
I think the same reason I haven’t read a lot of books that I want to read applies here… There are just so many books and so little time. I have four books I’m currently reading as well as so many that I need to read here coming up and this is how books that I know I want to read at some point get pushed to the background to await a rainy day when I will pull them back out and pick a random older book to read.
Why Read instead of Remove:
I decided to read Coraline instead of removing it from my TBR is because for one, I have been wanting to read it for a while so I knew it was one I definitely wanted to keep, and also its only 194 pages, so why not just sit down and read the book?! It took me two sittings because I started it pretty late on a thursday night and then finished it up friday when I got home from work. Super quick and fun little book!
Over the years I have seen the movie to Coralilne more times than I can count. I’ve always been a fan of the spooky and creepy things, being born in October I think I’ve always related it to a time of fun and exciting happenings. So naturally when I saw the movie it was instantly a favorite. I loved the colorful yet a bit dull scenery and the story of a girl who has to make a big decision even though it should be an easy one, we have all had those times when the grass looks greener elsewhere. I’ve always wanted to see if the book was anything like the movie since the movie has become a favorite of mine, and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that it really follows the book closely! There were a couple of changes but nothing that took away from the message that the book has to tell.
Somehow I got a copy of the book with a note from Neil Gaiman in the beginning, which I always love to read because there’s always a little story to how the actual story came to be. And the name Coraline is such a unique name that I have always wondered where it came from. Gaiman wrote in his letter that he had actually typed it wrong on accident but upon seeing the name Coraline on the page, he decided that’s who he was meant to write about and that she had a story to tell. He also wrote this at first for one daughter but by the time he finished it, it was also for his other daughter. The house was based off of houses that he has actually lived in himself, and the house in the movie closely resembles his current residence (as of when the movie came out). All of these little tidbits help to make this sweet and creepy story into something real and meaningful and I love that about a book.
So in short, Coraline is the story about a girl who is small for her age, who always gets called Caroline instead of Coraline, no matter how many times she corrects people. She has recently moved into a home that consists of different apartments, where her other housemates are an older couple of ladies and all their dogs, and a crazy old man and his mouse circus. With busy parents, Coraline must find ways to entertain herself until school starts and so she frequently takes to exploring the garden and areas around the new house. She also likes to visit the little old ladies and their dogs from time to time, but they can be a bit much so she limits those visits to when she really has nothing else to do. One rainy day when its too gross to be outside even in boots and a raincoat, she is given the task to explore the house, where she finds a door that leads to nowhere. Her mom even unlocks it to show her that its nothing but a brick wall on the other side. But one strange day she finds that the bricks are no longer there, and when she ventures through to the other side, she finds a mirror world to her own, complete with her other mother and other father. But after a day of exploring on the other side of the door, she realizes that something is off, and she only wants to go home. But its not that easy, because her other mother wants her to stay and never go back.
There was a strong underlying moral to this book that its not brave if you aren’t afraid, being brave is when you are afraid but you still do what you must even though you don’t want to. This is what Coraline tells herself from time to time. That she must do the right thing even if it scares her because that is what being courageous is. And she knows that no matter what the other mother might tell her, she knows that her parents truly love her and would do anything for her. So often we are told stories where the monster is defeated by some hero or a knight in shining armor and its wonderful to read a story where the opposite is true. In Coraline its not a knight who comes to the rescue, but a small girl in her pajamas, with a strange stone in her pocket and a cat who can sometimes talk as her sidekick. Through sheer determination Coraline finds a way to trick the other mother into a game that will give her a chance to find a free not only her parents but the rest of the children who have been captured by the other mother before.
Being such a short book a lot happens really quickly, and it doesn’t go into things too in depth, but thats okay because the message still gets across to the reader. And the atmosphere and voice to the book are solid throughout. I feel like this is a perfect book for a child to read and learn to be brave even in the face of fear, and to always do whats right even when whats wrong is easier at the time. I know so many children that I nanny for on a regular basis who are going through this phase in their lives where they are afraid to go to a different room in the house alone, and I’m constantly telling them, “You are safe, this is a happy and safe home, there is nothing to worry about.” And even though they really do understand and know this, its tough to have courage when your imagination can get the best of you. I think that this would be a perfect book for the kids I know struggling to be brave. To know that you must believe that you are brave in order to do what makes you brave. And it doesn’t happen without fear, but instead the fear is what gives you the courage to do what needs to be done.
If You Liked This Book:
So I am going to be really uncreative with this recommendation and suggest reading not only another one of Neil Gaiman’s books, but also the last TBR Guillotine book that I posted. But in all honesty, I think that this is the perfect follow up book if you haven’t read it. It not only keeps with the eerie and mysterious writing that Gaiman has perfected, but it is also a quick and fun read being another middle grade book. There’s something about the simplicity to reading a middle grade book that gets back to the basics of what a book is all about. There isn’t any angsty teen romance, or drama like I’ve come to be so used to in all the YA books I read, and without this you really get down to the nitty gritty of the story. And in both The Graveyard Book and Coraline I’ve come to love how they are both great stories in their own respect. We see the moral at hand in each that is just waiting to come to play after the characters realize their mistakes and grow before our very eyes. I loved both of these books and hope that you will love them too!
Have you read Coraline? What did you think of the book? Do you think its a good book for younger kids or did it scare you like it has so many others? I think the thing about this book is to look past the creepy and the eerie to what the moral of the story is, through reading this we are all conquering our fears. I’d love to know what you all think! Let me know!
Next Book on the Guillotine:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson – What are your thoughts, should I chop this one or read it?!