A modern classic - deliciously creepy, flatteringly challenging, and ultimately tremendously moral, for ages 8 to 10
Still as simultaneously innocent and complex and deliciously scary (in a way that does not patronise the young reader - Coraline assumes a certain maturity that more children show, in their understanding of the darker concepts of the world, than many adults are comfortable with becoming aware about them doing) as when I was given my own copy, all those many years ago.
This is not a book for naturally timid children, as it *is* a horror story, but ultimately it is one about learning to appreciate one's own life, and also to discern the difference between fantasy and reality - and to trust one's gut, when a charlatan tries to sell them the former at the expense of the latter.
In that way, Coraline contains many useful lessons that will serve the young reader well in later life. It's a tale about following instinct, and resisting outsiders' control, or invitations that seem too good to be true.
The Other Mother, who is the main villain of this tale, is as marvelously - and again, unpatronisingly - sinister as Roald Dahl's Grand High Witch, but there are allies, here, too, and sacrifice, and one Hell of a canny, clever, brave young heroine through whose eyes we follow these events.
Coraline presents children with what they have always known, which is the concept that monsters may well exist - but also the information that they need to balance that fact, which is that monsters can be defeated. And they themselves, as little and helpless and talked down to and ignored as they often feel, can be the heroes of their own stories, and even of other people's, too.
It's a very scary book, but one which is equally empowering, in its conclusion. And never fear, good does indeed triumph over evil in the end (even if no-one but the heroine herself, back in the real world, is aware of it).
Think of it as The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe for kids who like to be scared. It's a book, in my opinion, for precocious and courageous children between ages 8 and 10.Read full review
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