Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, dwarfs and elves! That’s right…I’m back. Thought you’d never see me again, did ya? Heh heh. Well, just as a quick update: I’m finally out of school and headed to Germany for a semester (a German semester, March – July). So I have a month to rest at home and do things like update this darned blog. Also, when I get to Germany, all my classes will be on Children’s Literature and Fairy Tales, so expect lots of updates then, too. Yessirree, I am back indeed.
And what a better time to be back than today? For the movie version of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic children’s tale Coraline just came out. And also recently, his wonderful new The Graveyard Book just won the Newbury Medal. (Look for another post on The Graveyard Book, soon). Wonderful!
Of course, one of the reasons that I love love love Neil Gaiman is that he shares my philosophy on children’s literature and violence (she said with a cackle). In fact, one of the things he said in a recent interview with the Star Tribune (Minneapolis’ newspaper; Gaiman calls the Twin Cities home…and so do I, in the summer! We must be meant to be) was that when one takes out darkness and violence from children’s tales, one loses the meaning of all that is light and gentle. Bravo, Neil!
But anyway, away with my ax-grinding. There’s business to be done!
I first read Neil Gaiman’s Coraline when I was writing a paper on one of his other books, Stardust which is his attempt at an adult fairy tale. I read Coraline at 9 pm the day before the paper was due, and I still hadn’t started on it yet. I immediately gobbled up the book, chucked away Stardust, and started writing about Coraline instead! It’s just better, folks; in general, Neil Gaiman’s books for children are better than his adult ones (the exceptions of course being Anansi Boys and Neverwhere).
Quick Summary (without spoilers): Coraline Jones moves to a new house with her boring parents. She finds a door in her house that leads nowhere. Later, she discovers that the door leads to a parallel world, in which everything is the same, yet better (like her mother’s cooking), and also strange (her Other Mother has buttons instead of eyes). Coraline is fascinated with the new world…until it is revealed that there is more to the Other Mother and her world than meets the eye.
Ooooooh! Yes, lots of fun.
Thankfully, the movie is just as magical as the book, and just as scary (yes, I screamed like a little girl at one point). It was one of those instances in which the changes that were made were beneficial. Example: in the book, Coraline goes about talking to herself, or the Narrator explains her thoughts. This would be rather strange in the film, so the filmmakers add Wybie, a neighborhood boy to whom Coraline can talk. Also, the book’s climax (ooooh, its soooo good, I really really want to write about it) builds slowly, a luxury which the film (with time limits and a fussy viewership) can’t afford, so they compact it a little, but keep all of its dramatic power.
In short: go see the movie. Go read the book. I’m going to post longer, more detailed reviews of both in the reviews section so those who want spoilers can be spoiled to their little heart’s content.
Since I’ve been gone so long, here’s what you can expect in the coming week:
Coraline (book and movie reviews)
The Graveyard Book (post, and later review)
The Tale of Desperaux: Don’t Call it A Fairy Tale, Please Oh Please
Hotels and the Modern Fairy Tale: a Rant (you’ll like this one)