Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Coraline slightly frightens
me. As I read the story, I couldn’t help but finish it as the suspense was great, but perhaps because of my experience (now being an adult), I found myself scared. Coraline is a story of a little girl who unlocks the door into another world where there is the “Other Mother” who kidnaps Coraline’s parents to try to force
Coraline to live in her “other world”. In the story Coraline meets three other children’s ‘shells’ — they are not really alive or dead because the Other Mother has hidden their souls so that she can feast off of them forever. One of the little children spoke old English, so the idea is that the children have been there for quite some time. Coraline then decides to make a bet with the Other Mother to free her parents and the other children’s souls. The question is, whether the Other Mother will keep her word and if Coraline will be able to find the children’s souls in time to save them.

One of the lessons to be learned from Coraline is a good and valuable lesson which is the sacrificial love parents have for their children. Coraline remembers a time when her father saved her from yellow jackets, and decides that if her father loved her that much to sacrifice himself, then she can overcome her fears and try to rescue her parents; no matter the risk to herself. And Coraline herself is quite a strong character as she is able to make strategic decisions to help her against the Other Mother. She does this all even though she herself is frightened because she loves her parents and she knows her parents would do the same for her (even though they were not been spending much time with her in the beginning of the story, she knew that they still loved her). So the general lesson from the story is a good one, but the events along the way are just a little creepy.

In Coraline, the breadth and knowledge about the world is explained little, which fits as it is a children’s story. From reading Coraline, the reader will know that there is one very creepy Other Mother who is able to transform things, but not create. She ‘feeds’ off supposedly of children someway, but it isn’t ever explained. What is explained is this [a child’s ‘shell’ is explaining this to Coraline]:

“The names are the first things to go, after the breath has gone, and the beating of the heart. We keep our memories longer than our names.”

“She [the Other Mother] stole our hearts, and she stole our souls, and she took our lives away, and she left us here, and she forgot
about us in the dark.”

“She fed on us until we’ve nothing left of ourselves, only snakes skins and
spider husks…”

Most children may completely read over this, and not see the
darkness of the story at all. It is better that not much more is explained as Gaiman’s other world seems to be controlled by a woman who is manipulative and creepy (like most of his villainous woman in his adult stories). And while the real fairy tales are slightly dark as well, this Other Mother seems to build and create her world off of children’s spirits and lives. The reader can’t believe that she wants Coraline as a daughter, but instead wants to use her to help fuel her and her world. This is in my mind makes the tale very dark, even with the touching lesson of sacrificial love.

Coraline is a well-written tale but perhaps for older children, such as teenagers. Especially in light of other dark tales that have been recently written, like Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Dead and the Gone by Pfeffer. The question for these stories is how dark should children’s stories be and when is it the appropriate time for them to read such tales?

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Its a story of a mouse…

If asked to describe the story, “Tale of Despereaux”, I would have to say that it is a cute fairy-tale story of a mouse who loves a princess.  To adults, this may sound absurd, and on a simple level “Tale of Despereaux” is that.  Thankfully, being a good storyteller, Dicamello, does not have the mouse become a prince, kiss the princess, nor do they wed (sorry to spoil the ending for some).  The movie trailer also mostly shows the story of Despereaux only, but if anyone actually reads the story, they will find that there are other stories besides the tale of Despereaux.

For instance, there is the story about his arch enemy, a rat.  He isn’t a true villain however, just misunderstood.  And perhaps that works well in the storyteller’s favor as after all, this is a fairy-tale.

And then’s there the story of the royal family — the princess, the king, and the queen who loved soup. The king and princess grieve the loss of the queen, but the princess is overjoyed at the end for welcoming of soup again in her kingdom.

Also, there is the tale of a girl who is useless and quite simple-minded.  All she wants is to be a princess, but she is stuck bouncing from servant position to servant position in the royal household as she can’t seem to do anything right.

Lastly, there is also the story of Despereaux’s father who feels guilty for his treatment of his son.  He is able to find redemption in the end.

“Tale of Despereaux” is a good fairy-tale story for any child to read.  Mostly girls will probably love reading it just because of its fantasy nature, but there is a little sword-play and action that may interest very young boys.  Above all, “Tale of Despereaux” shows that it is good to be unique and though people may misunderstand you at first, in the end they will appreciate and love your creativity and uniqueness.  Essentially, remember, you are special.

Fun Site of the Day



Papercuts
wrote a blog on Lookybook.  I spent probably a half hour or so just browsing through various childrens books there.  Even though they are not geared towards the reading online, just a preview to see if you want to buy the book, I can’t help but imagine adults sitting down with their laptop and child (or in front of a desktop with a child on their lap) to read a book together.  The pictures are fabulous and the breadth of collection can only grow.  Perhaps they can get Goodnight Moon or Little Bear’s Friend sometime soon.

Inkdeath

InkdeathI just found the cover of Inkdeath today, the last book in Cornelia Funke’s Ink trilogy. I can’t wait for October to come. On a sad note though, the date for the movie Inkheart is now undetermined. I hope that whatever the trouble is will be settled soon. Nothing is more aggravating than prolonged disputes, though Cornelia’s site is still sweet and friendly about the delay (just like the author).


Link to Cornelia’s news