Neil Gaiman proves that children’s books do not need to be dull, simple, or ordinary. Coraline is a beautiful novel about courage and strength. It is definitely a bit scary if you are a child. (It is scary like Scar singing “Be Prepared” and not the kind of scary that leads night terrors.) However, Gaiman acknowledges the scary parts through the eyes of his character and encourages the reader to be brave. Again, I find myself reading a book that I easily imagine both parent and child enjoying.
I really respect Gaiman’s stance that a child reader does not mean a happy, perfect world. Nor does it mean simple sentences or themes. Rather, he writes a novel people of all ages can enjoy and from which we all can learn. I am twenty-six and I was brightened and encouraged by Coraline’s strength and bravery throughout the novel. (I was even a little unnerved by a few of the scary parts.)
Perhaps, I admire Gaiman because even this children’s book is written with the seriousness of an author trying to share an idea: courage is what occurs when you do the right thing even when it is terrifying.
Who among us does not need that reminder from time to time?
-A Bookish Girl