Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a simple story about a curious little girl who ventured in her new house and found herself in another world quite similar to ours, and yet different. The house, the number of rooms, the furniture, her bed and even the type of food she eats are exactly the same but her mother and her father’s appearance are different. As the story progresses, her “other” mother asked her to stay for good and leave her real parents but she chooses otherwise. This made the other mother angry so she kidnapped Coraline’s parents and threatened to kill them if Coraline continues to deny her. Coraline, however, found out that she and her parents were not the only ones trapped in this world and this gave her an idea on how to trick the other mother. It is in this plan and situation that the story of Coraline becomes frightening and dangerous. The book details how she was able to go back into our world, save her parents, save the other trapped children in the other world and how she got rid of the other mother for good.
Posts Tagged ‘Neil Gaiman’
“When I was a little girl, when we lived in our old house, a long long time ago, my dad took me for a walk on the wasteland between our house and the shops.
It wasn’t the best place to go for a walk, really. There were all these things that people had thrown away back there — old cookers and broken dishes and dolls with no arms and legs and empty cans and broken bottles. Mum and Dad made me promise not to go exploring back there, because there were too many sharp things, and tetanus and such.
But I kept telling them I wanted to explore it. So one day my dad put on his big brown boots and his gloves and put my boot on me and my jeans and sweater, and we went for a walk.
We must have walked for about twenty minutes. We went down this hill, to the bottom of a gully where a stream was, when my dad suddenly said to me, “Coraline — run away. Up the hill. Now!” He said it in a tight sort of way, urgently, so I did. I ran away up the hill. Something hurt me on the back of my arm as I ran, but I kept running.
As I got to the top of the hill I heard somebody thundering up the hill behind me. It was my dad, charging like a rhino. When he reached me he picked me up in his arms and swept over the edge of the hill.
And then we stopped and we puffed and we panted, and we looked back down the gully.
The air was alive with yellow wasps. We must have stepped on a wasps’ net in a rotten branch as we walked. And while I was running up the hill, my dad stayed and got stung, to give me time to run away. His glasses had fallen off when he ran.
I only had the one sting on the back of my arm. He had thirty-nine stings, all over him. We counted later, in the bath.
So, later that afternoon my dad went back again to the wasteland, to get his glasses back. He said if he left it another day he wouldn’t be able to remember where they’d fallen.
And soon he got home, wearing his glasses. He said that he wasn’t scared when he was standing there and the wasps were stinging him and hurting him and he was watching me run away. Because he knew he had to give me enough time to run, or the wasps would have come after both of us.
And he said that wasn’t brave of him, doing that, just standing there and being stung. It wasn’t brave because he wasn’t scared: it was the only thing he could do. But going back again to get his glasses when he knew the wasps were there, when he was really scared. That was brave.”
“And why was that?” asked the cat, although it sounded barely interested.
“Because,” she said, “when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
“And that’s why you’re going back to her world, then?” said the cat. “Because your father once saved you from wasps?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Coraline. “I’m going back for them because they are my parents. And if they noticed I was gone I’m sure they would do the same for me. You know you’re talking again?”
Reading Neil Gaiman‘s editing work in The Sandman: Book of Dreams got me interested. Good Omens made me want to explore his novels more. Watching Stardust intrigued me further but reading his graphic novels on the Sandman Series simply, got me.
Since then, I’ve tried to read more of his work but many other books got in the way – until quite recently, when the Bookstore windows started displaying his recent, The Graveyard Book (which I have a copy of but still haven’t read).
Thing is, a persistent bookaholic/salesperson at Powerbooks SM Megamall got me talking about Gaiman and apparently, a more recent work – Odd and the Frost Giants, which he described as nothing short of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Series. In a way, he was right.
I know that it was going to be a children’s book classic so paying Php 565 wasn’t going to be much, specially now, that Julia has started reading her lines. On second thought, how in the world am I going to follow-through the entire book with her? Let me worry about that later. For now, let me talk about the book.
Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants is an adaptation of Norse Mythology taking reference on Thor (God of Thunder), Odin (God of the Sky) and Loki (Blood-brother to the Gods). It also makes mention of Lady Freya, Asgard, Aesir, Mimir’s well, the Frost giants and Jotunheim. In a story-telling format, one where you seem to hear a good voice as you read the book, Gaiman narrates the story of a boy named Odin who was very normal like any other. He was the son of a wood-cutter and wood-carver but his father died and her mother soon remarried. A few weeks after his father’s death, he met an accident that left him crippled with one leg. The story takes shape when winter for some reason seems to continue thus affecting people’s moods, bringing over many fights. This brought him to move out his mother’s place into a hut near the mountains. It was here he saw a fox, that seemed to have a fiery tail, beckoning him to follow. And he did. While he was doing so, he also noticed an eagle, which he felt was observing him, but he took no notice. The fox led him to a far place, where a bear seemed to have his hand stuck in a tree. Hauling his axe, he freed the bear from his uncomfortable position and realized too late how dangerous the situation he was in. But neither the fox nor the bear did anything to hurt him. The two, together with the eagle, seemed to have even guided him back to his hut where he was able to eat and rest. It was here he woke with the sound of voices filling his hut. The three animals could talk and it was then he found out that these were Thor, Odin and Loki, transformed into animals by the Frost Giant who tricked Loki into handing over Mjollnir (hammer). This was also the reason of the extended winter as the Frost Giant likes the cold. At this, Odd decided to find a solution. He was going back to Asgard to defeat the giant and bring back spring to his land. He was able to create a rainbow to transport them into Asgard and he was also able to talk the Frost Giant into giving up his reign. In the end, it was the gift of knowledge from the Mimir’s well, his father’s craft, a good smile and a good conversation (or negotiation), that ended the long winter and the forced transformation of the gods.
The book is a light and simple read, very adequate to children who wish to know a bit about Norse Mythology. It actually sounds like Brother Bear and David and Goliath, and I find it really amusing. I was expecting “more” from Gaiman but this is a children’s book and I think children will appreciate this, I even suggested it to Julia’s Pre-school teacher.
What I like about this book is its simplicity and rich imagination. I am not fully versed in Norse Mythology but I like the idea of one conflict being resolved with one solution – nothing too complicated or fancy, nothing that webs through another series of conflicts, nothing that has a huge twist somewhere in the middle or a huge open ending. I also like the illustrations, I find it direct and specific.
On the contrary, Gaea describes the book as “the bible-like book.” For some reason, the hard-cover and the type of illustration it has on the cover reminds her of the bible (we have a Children’s bible at home that has a similar artwork). She didn’t pass through the first page of the book and decided to do other things. Julia was reading the first few lines but she was reading, more for the sake of “just reading” and not necessarily, understanding. That’s why it does entail some sort of challenge on my part.
And it does want me to finish Riordan‘s Percy Jackson series all the more.
I do look forward for Gaiman’s other novels – those that are more appropriate for my age, I must say.
The wise man knows when to keep silent. Only the fool tells all he knows.
- Odd, Odd and the Frost Giants -
Talk is free but the wise man chooses when to spend his words.
- Odd, Odd and the Frost Giants -
If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boy and his dog and his friends. And a summer that never ends. And if you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot… no, imagine a sneaker, laces trailing, kicking a pebble; imagine a stick, to poke at interesting things, and throw for a dog that may or may not decide to retrieve it; imagine a tuneless whistle, pounding some luckless popular song into insensibility; imagine a figure, half-devil, all human… Slouching hopefully towards Tadfield.
- Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett -
“You see, evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction,” said the angel. “It is ultimately negative, and therefore encompasses its downfall even at its moments of apparent triumph. No matter how grandiose, how well-planned, how apparently foolproof an evil plan, the inherent sinfulness will by definition rebound upon its instigators. No matter how apparently successful it may seem upon the way, at the end it will wreck itself. It will founder upon the rocks of iniquity and sink headfirst to vanish without trace into the seas of oblivion.”
- Aziraphale, Good Omens -