Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. Adapted and Illustrated by P. Craig Russell. HarperCollins, 2008. 186 pages. Hardcover $16.19, ISBN 978-0-06-082543-0; Tr. $6.48, ISBN 978-0-06-082545-4; PLB $15.51, ISBN 978-0-329-69109-7
TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes
Genre: Horror (Graphic Novel)
Part of a series? No.
This graphic novel is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s delightfully creepy novel. Readers who are familiar with the novel will recognize the elements that come straight from Gaiman. The story itself is scary and wonderful to read, so this review will focus on the illustrations.
Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:
As other commenters have noted, P. Craig Russell’s style is not entirely compatible with the “feel” of Gaiman’s story. It looked too realistic for Coraline; I supposed I’ve been spoiled by Selick’s interpretation in the film. Russell’s Coraline looked older (as commenters have noted), and she did not look like the girl I imagined. Furthermore, the Other Mother was clearly evil from the start in this adaptation. She is drawn in much sharper lines than Coraline’s mother, and her face is clearly predatory from Coraline’s first moment in the Other flat. I like how the film (and, arguably, Gaiman’s text) only hint at some creepiness (i.e, another Mother? What the what?) but doesn’t spoil that she truly is an evil creature. She looks wholesome (save her button eyes). While the film does open with the Other Mother remaking the doll into a Coraline doll, this is not a major spoiler of the terrifying beast that she is (the transformation in the film from humanoid Other Mother to arachnid made out of sewing needles is truly frightening!) Russell’s Other Mother was scary early on, her sharp teeth spoiling the evil reveal from her very first smile.
Curriculum Ties/Library Use:
A cool activity for a book club reading this graphic novel would be a scavenger hunt. It would not be quite so high stakes as Coraline’s search for the children’s souls and her parents, but it could still be fun! Items could be hidden throughout the school, and teams will be timed to find them. An alternate possibility would be to turn part of the library into an “escape room.” Kids will have to solve the puzzle and escape before the Other Mother takes their eyes! (Gruesome, but potentially fun)! I would have a box of buttons and a spool of thread handy just to creep out the kids if my group skews towards older tweens. (Ideas from myself; how to do an escape room here; I will refer to this activity several times in this document.)
Grade Level: 5-8
Awards and Starred Reviews:
Booklist starred 3/15/08
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred 9/1/08
Kirkus Reviews starred 6/15/08
Kliatt starred 9/1/08
Library Journal starred 1/1/09
School Library Journal starred 7/1/08
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred 6/1/08
Does the Cat Die?: (Highlight this whole line for the answer) >>> NO! 🙂
John (screen name). (2009, Feb. 22). Comics: John reviews “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Review of the book Coraline). Wit War. Retrieved from https://witwar.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/comics-john-reviews-coraline-by-neil-gaiman-and-p-craig-russell/
Booth, H. (2016, July 14). TPiB: Locked in the library! Hosting an escape room program at your library (blog post). Teen Librarian Toolbox. Retrieved from http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2016/07/tpib-locked-in-the-library/