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Author: Neil Gaiman (link)
Genre: Fantasy / Horror
Pub Date: January 2002
Synopsis: In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close. The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own. Only it's different.
First Line: Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.
When I was a kid, I loved creepy stuff. Horror movies, ghost stories, and haunted legends were totally my thing. Which is why I wish I had Coraline to scare my pants off when I was a middle grader. There's a secret door. Button eyes. Parents trapped behind a mirror, writing messages backwards. Seriously, right?
One of my favorite quotes describing the story is by Lemony Snicket, who said, "This book tells a fascinating and disturbing story that frightened me nearly to death." But it's not jut the creepy crawly fingers running down your back that makes this book amazing. Coraline is a fully formed, fun character who has normal kids gripes (like her father's cooking) that ground the otherwise fantastical tale. And the parade of secondary characters running around this book are truly unique and hilarious. Except for the other mother, who is anything but hilarious.
Will Coraline Be Too Scary?: For some kids, yes. Children who are overwhelmed by scary stories might need to wait a couple years before they are ready for this book. But most kids will love the twisty world that Coraline enters. In fact, the manner in which Coraline deals with the frightening plot will be empowering to many.
Why You'll Love Coraline (not Caroline): If you ever get trapped in a peculiar parallel universe, or maybe even a scary dream, you can only hope you'll act as brave and self-assured as Coraline. While the story had many frightening elements, Coraline took control of the frightening situation and made her own rules.
Want to find more marvelous middle grade books? Here's a list of MMGM bloggers with more recommendations!