[BOOK REVIEW]'Coraline' thrills and chills

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[BOOK REVIEW]'Coraline' thrills and chills

"I'm your Other Mother" are some of the spookiest words ever spoken by a ghoul or goblin in children's literature.

Coraline and her family have moved to a new house. Young Coraline discovers a door that is supposed to lead to nowhere, but it actually goes to another house, just like hers. In that other house lives her Other Mother.

The Other Mother is just like Coraline's, except her fingers are longer and instead of eyes, she has two shiny black buttons.

But whereas Coraline's real mother is a terrible cook and her real father ignores her, her Other Mother is a great cook and her Other Father loves to play. Too bad they are evil demons.

Oh, and along the way there is also a mysterious cat, two actress neighbors and a man who trains mice to dance and play music.

"Coraline" has more ideas in a chapter than most books have from beginning to end. And its message is one of the smartest in children's literature: that not everyone who claims to love you and gives you what you want is necessarily good for you.

Usually, the things that scare children are of little concern for adults. "Coraline," on the other hand, is an odd book that children enjoy as a romp, but adults find disturbing. It's the matter of Other Parents and people with button eyes.

Mr. Gaiman's last book, "American Gods," was aimed at adults although it had a decidedly juvenile feel. "Coraline" is a children's book, yet it is so rich and full of ideas that most adults will love it. It might scare the bejesus out of you, but you'll love it nonetheless.

Note that most versions, but not all, are decorated with Dave McKean's wonderful illustrations. Check carefully before ordering.

by Mark Russell

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