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Coraline book by Neil Gaiman

The book

This article includes both the novella (book) and the graphic novel (comic) of Coraline as both describe the same story with relatively little differences.

The Coraline book was written by Neil Gaiman. First published on February 24th 2002.

The Coraline graphic novel was adapted by P. Craig Russell and lettered by Todd Klein. First published in 2008.

Awards and Notability[]

The Graphic Novel (comic)[]

The Novella (book)[]

Plot Synopsis[]

As the tale begins, Coraline and her parents move into a new apartment. Coraline's parents are always busy with their work and pay her little attention. Isolated, Coraline goes off to explore. She soon meets the other inhabitants of the house: Miss Miriam Forcible and Miss April Spink, two elderly women retired from the stage and an even older man named Mr Bobo, who trains mice to play music (though it is left ambiguous as to whether or not his attempts are successful). She finds a locked door in the drawing room, though the entrance beyond is bricked up. The next day she takes the key to the door, opens it, and finds a dark corridor leading to an apartment identical to her own. This alternate world is inhabited by her Other Mother and Other Father, who are near-replicas of her real parents, except they have buttons for eyes. These Other parents at first seem more interesting, fun and caring than her real parents. At the day's end, Coraline's Other Mother offers her a chance to stay in this world forever if Coraline will sew buttons over her eyes. Coraline decides she would rather go home, much to the disappointment of her Other Mother.

Upon her return to her apartment, Coraline finds her real parents are missing. They do not return by the next day, and Coraline, discovering they were kidnapped by her Other Mother, resolves to rescue them. Coraline travels again to the Other Mother's world. After angering her Other Mother by refusing to accept gifts or love, she is trapped behind a mirror as punishment. There Coraline meets the souls of three children from different eras whom the Other Mother entrapped then tossed aside when she wearied of them. After the Other Mother decides to take Coraline out of the room, Coraline challenges the Other Mother in a game to find the children's souls and her parents within the Other Parents' world, using her wits and a seeing stone received from her neighbors. Coraline finds the others' souls and escapes to the real world, forcing the door closed on the Other Mother and severing her hand. Back in her apartment, Coraline finds her parents safe and sound.

The next night, Coraline discovers her task is not done. The Other Mother's severed hand, which is still in Coraline's world as she accidentally snapped the Other Mother's hand off while closing the door, attempts to steal the key so that the Other Mother can exact her revenge. Coraline lures the hand to a well and tricks it into falling in with the key, ridding the world of the danger of the Other Mother forever.

Characters In The Book[]

  • Coraline Jones – The young heroine and self proclaimed explorer, she is young, clever, curious, resourceful, and brave. Coraline is often irritated by rain, crazy grown-ups (as they all seem to be), and not being taken seriously because of her young age and quiet demeanour, though perhaps her biggest annoyance is that everyone mistakes her name for Caroline (everyone in the real world at least, except the mice and her parents). She also likes apples and limeade, which she finds very curious.
  • Mel Jones – Coraline's mother works at her house on the computer. She is very busy most of the time, and sometimes a little inattentive, but she loves and cares about Coraline. She is married to Mr. Jones, Coraline's father. She is pretty, nice, helpful, and outgoing, though Coraline considers her to be rather boring.
  • Charlie Jones – Coraline's father works at his house on the computer which he spends most of his time on his job. He cares about Coraline very much and is very nice, gentlemanly, handsome, and helpful. But like Coraline's mother, she finds him rather boring.
  • The cat – A black cat from Coraline's world. The cat acts as a mentor to Coraline and guides her through her journey. It claims to have no name, explaining that cats do not need names to tell each other apart. Unlike many of the characters in the novel, it does not have an "other world" counterpart, saying that unlike other creatures cats can "keep themselves together". It moves freely from one world to the next, although it can talk in the Other Mother's world. It is very sarcastic towards Coraline and defiant of the Other Mother, but seems to tremble at the thought of being stuck in the Other Mother's world.
  • The Beldam (Other Mother) – An anomalous, mysterious and inhuman creature that created much of the 'Other' world for its own entertainment. It is almost identical to Coraline's real mother but taller and thinner, with long black hair that seems to move by itself, black button eyes, paper-white skin, and extremely long, twitchy fingers with long dark red nails. It cannot create, but only copy, twist and change things from the real world when constructing her version of it. It uses its abilities to lure children into a small world of its own creation which it models into a world it believes said children would prefer to the real world. Afterward a few visits, it offers to let them stay forever if they have black buttons similar to the copies' sewn onto their eyes, after which she removes their souls and imprisons what's left inside an inescapable closet. It is referred to several times as "the beldam", an archaic word meaning "hag/witch".
  • Other Father – A creation of the Other Mother that was used to try to trick Coraline into staying in the Other Mother's world forever. The Other Mother ends up punishing him for revealing too much to Coraline by transforming him into a grub-like creature. However even though he is supposed to be one of the Other Mother's minions, he turns out not to be evil and is actually very friendly and timid. He helps Coraline escape back to the real world before being imprisoned in the Other world's basement. As punishment, he is transformed into a giant grub-like creature and made more susceptible to the Other Mother's control. This makes The Other Father completely forget that he helped Coraline in the first place, and is forced to trap Coraline, so she can't win her game. The Other Father Forcefully obeys and tries to hurt Coraline but she eventually closes the Other world's basement's door and leaves the possessed other father trapped and imprisoned.
  • April Spink & Miriam Forcible – A retired actress who live next door to Coraline. They own several Scottie dogs, and talk in theater jargon, often referencing their time as actresses. They recognize the danger Coraline is in after reading her fortune through tea leaves and give her a stone with a hole in it to help protect her. Their copies in the Other Mother's world are young, pretty, and perform forever in front of the Scottie dogs, who in the Other Mother's world behave like humans. However, during the Other Mother's dangerous game the copies are reshaped into an amalgamated spider-like creature and encased in a silken cocoon to serve as guardians for one of the Three Ghost Children's souls.
  • Sergei Alexander Bobinsky – A retired circus performer who live above Coraline's; he is commonly referred to as the Crazy Old Man Upstairs. Over the course of the book he claims to be training mice to perform in a mouse circus, and often brings Coraline messages from the mice, though at first Coraline doubts he even has mice to train, and she does not listen to what the man says was supposed to come from the mice. His counterpart in the Other Mother's world was never seen before the dangerous game and is reshaped into a pile of rats wearing a suit to serve as a guardian for one of the souls. When Coraline confronts him, he promises that if she stays in the Other Mother's world she can live all of her wildest fantasies and never know boardum. After Coraline refuses his offer he expresses his lack of understanding to her decision, to which Coraline uses as an example to acknowledge him and the other copies as not true living beings.
  • The three ghost children – A trio of children who were previously victims of the other mother, two girls and one boy. The boy is described as having a dirty face and red trousers. One of the girls has two butterfly wings, blond hair, and a silver circlet, the other has a brown bonnet and brown dress. They were trapped by the Other Mother at different times before Coraline, and resided in the closet until Coraline found herself in the same closet. She promises to rescue them after hearing about their vulnerability due to their lack of souls. After having their souls restored, they go to the afterlife, but the last Coraline sees of them is in a dream where she picnics with them. Here, she sees their true appearances and they thank her for freeing them from the Other Mother. It is also shown that the winged girl eats honeysuckle.