When Phillip Pullman thinks a fantasy story is well written,
I pay attention. So, when I read his review of Neil Gaiman‘s young adult
novel Coraline several years ago, I promptly added
the book to my reading list. I’m glad I did.
Here’s the story, in brief.
Coraline Jones and her too-busy parents move into a flat that is part
of a huge old house shared by a "crazy old man," Mr. Bobo,
and two retired thespians, Miss Pink and Miss Forcible. During her explorations
of the house, Coraline finds a door leading to a world that mirrors
her own, but with toys that are alive, cats that talk and an Other Mother
who is attentive and adoring. This world is no Narnia, though, and its sinister side comes
to light fairly quickly. The book is short, but I think it’s one of
Gaiman’s best — weird, twisted and just plain creepy. No surprise, then,
that an animated film version of Coraline is in production.
Actually, the film has been
in production for several years, because director Henry Selick
(The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach)
is using stop-motion animation. In fact, Coraline will be the first
movie to use stop-motion animation in 3-D. Although the trailer isn’t
3-D, the quality and spookiness are enough to make me look forward to
more. (If you’re as geeky as I am, you can watch the high-res Quicktime
version at Gaiman’s site.)
Coraline stars creepy-in-her-own-right
Dakota Fanning as the voice of Coraline, Teri Hatcher as
Coraline’s mother and Other Mother, and the absolutely fabulous Jennifer
Saunders and Dawn French as Miss Forcible and Miss Spink.
PC himself, John Hodgman, voices Coraline’s father and Other
Father. We have to wait another year to see the finished product, but
that gives you time to read the book. And you should — just not at bedtime.