Creepy Reads for Halloween: Coraline
This week's creepy read is Coraline by Neil Gaiman. This is the first Gaiman book I read and it holds a special place in my heart. I relate to Coraline, an overly imaginative only child who's name is constantly mispronounced; I feel you, girl. When I first picked this book up, I was expecting it to lean more toward cute than creepy. I was wrong. There are weird neighbors, rats, a secret door, alternate reality parents who seem chill at first, but totally are not, and a well. As a child of the '80s, I fully understand the danger of wells. Baby Jessica, anyone? It seemed like kids were always falling in wells for no reason. Why were they uncovered and why were children playing near them?
Coraline Jones, constantly called Caroline, thinks her parents are sooooooo boring. She wants to explore the old house they've moved into that's been divided into flats. She wants the bright gloves. But, her parents keep telling her no, to leave the neighbors alone, to stay close to the house and not wander the grounds, and that she will be getting the practical clothing her mother has picked out. Coraline, against the warnings of know-it-all cat and her parents, does all the exploring. She finds a door in her flat that opens up to a bricked wall. She mentions this to Mr. Bobinsky who relays a message from his mice pleading with her to open the door again. Coraline does exactly what most kids would do and opens the door again. This time, there's no brick wall, so she goes through a door and finds this more fun, copy of her world where her parents are a blast, she's allowed to explore and roam the whole building and visit her wackadoo neighbors. The old ladies perform plays for an audience of dogs, the man upstairs has a well-trained mouse circus, it sounds like a real good time. And then she finds the trapped children. Yep. Trapped children who have been drawn to this world by the other mother, WHO HAS BUTTONS FOR EYES, BY THE WAY, and held captive there forever. The other mother is trying very, very hard to keep Coraline there as well, promising her all kinds of fun times just as soon as Coraline lets her sew buttons over her eyes. Coraline is not down for that at all, so she sets out trying to get home and also free the souls of the trapped children.
Coraline makes it back to her real life where she learns to appreciate what she has at home. The point is, exploring is fine, you just have to be very careful and, if someone has buttons for eyes, don't hang out with them. Also, just a general public service announcement for everyone: if you have a well, keep the dang thing covered. Think of the children.