February 24, 2002

While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate world that closely mirrors her own but, in many ways, is better. She rejoices in her discovery, until Other Mother (Teri Hatc...

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Fairy taleFantasyChildren's literature

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While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate world that closely mirrors her own but, in many ways, is better. She rejoices in her discovery, until Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and the rest of her parallel family try to keep her there forever. Coraline must use all her resources and bravery to make it back to her own family and life.

Coraline is a dark fantasy children's novella by British author Neil Gaiman, published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and Harper Collins. It was awarded the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Novella, the 2003 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers. The Guardian ranked Coraline #82 in its list of 100 Best Books of the 21st Century. Gaiman started writing Coraline in 1990. The titular character's name came from a typo in "Caroline". According to Gaiman, "I had typed the name Caroline, and it came out wrong. I looked at the word Coraline, and knew it was someone's name. I wanted to know what happened to her." It has been compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and has been adapted into a 2009 stop-motion film, directed by Henry Selick.

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman 10 November 1960) is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards

Selected awards and honours


    From 1991 to 1993, Gaiman won Harvey Awards in the following categories:

        1991 Best Writer for The Sandman

        1992 Best Writer for The Sandman

        1993 Best Continuing or Limited Series for The Sandman

    From 1991 to 2014, Gaiman won Locus Awards in the following categories:

        1991 Best Fantasy Novel (runner-up) for Good Omens by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

        1999 Best Fantasy Novel (runner-up) for Stardust

        2002 Best Fantasy Novel for American Gods

        2003 Best Young Adult Book for Coraline

        2004 Best Novelette for "A Study in Emerald"

        2005 Best Short Story for "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire"

        2006 Best Fantasy novel for Anansi Boys. The book was also nominated for a Hugo Award, but Gaiman asked for it to be withdrawn from the list, stating that he wanted to give other writers a chance and that it was really more fantasy than science fiction.

        2006 Best Short Story for "Sunbird"

        2007 Best Short Story for "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"

        2007 Best Collection for Fragile Things

        2009 Best Young Adult novel for The Graveyard Book

        2010 Best Short Story for An Invocation of Incuriosity, published in Songs of the Dying Earth

        2011 Best Short Story for The Thing About Cassandra, published in Songs of Love and Death

        2011 Best Novelette for The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains, published in Stories

        2014 Best Fantasy Novel for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

    From 1991 to 2009, Gaiman won Eisner Awards in the following categories:

        1991 Best Continuing Series: Sandman, by Neil Gaiman and various artists (DC)

        1991 Best Graphic Album–Reprint: Sandman: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman and various artists (DC)

        1991 Best Writer: Neil Gaiman, Sandman (DC)

        1992 Best Single Issue or Story: Sandman #22-#28: "Season of Mists," by Neil Gaiman and various artists (DC)

        1992 Best Continuing Series: Sandman, by Neil Gaiman and various artists (DC)

        1992 Best Writer: Neil Gaiman, Sandman, Books of Magic (DC), Miracleman (Eclipse)

        1993 Best Continuing Series: Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists (DC)

        1993 Best Graphic Album–New: Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (VG Graphics/Dark Horse)

        1993 Best Writer: Neil Gaiman, Miracleman (Eclipse); Sandman (DC)

        1994 Best Writer: Neil Gaiman, Sandman (DC/Vertigo); Death: The High Cost of Living (DC/Vertigo)

        2000 Best Comics-Related Book: The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano (DC/Vertigo)

        2004 Best Short Story: "Death," by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, in The Sandman: Endless Nights (Vertigo/DC)

        2004 Best Anthology: The Sandman: Endless Nights, by Neil Gaiman and others, edited by Karen Berger and Shelly Bond (Vertigo/DC)

        2007 Best Archival Collection/Project–Comic Books: Absolute Sandman, vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman and various (Vertigo/DC)

        2009 Best Publication for Teens/Tweens: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins Children's Books)

    In 1991, Gaiman received an Inkpot Award at the San Diego Comic-Con International

    From 2000 to 2004, Gaiman won Bram Stoker Awards in the following categories:

        2000 Best Illustrated Narrative for The Sandman: The Dream Hunters

        2001 Best Novel for American Gods

        2003 Best Work for Young Readers for Coraline

        2004 Best Illustrated Narrative for The Sandman: Endless Nights

    From 2002 to 2016, Gaiman won Hugo Awards in the following categories:

        2002 Best Novel for American Gods

        2003 Best Novella for Coraline

        2004 Best Short Story for A Study in Emerald (in a ceremony the author presided over himself, having volunteered for the job before his story was nominated)

        2009 Best Novel for The Graveyard Book presented at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal where he was also the Professional Guest of Honor.

        2012 Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) for "The Doctor's Wife"

        2016 Best Graphic Story for The Sandman: Overture

    From 2002 to 2003, Gaiman won Nebula Awards in the following categories:

        2002 Best Novel for American Gods

        2003 Best Novella for Coraline

    From 2006 to 2010, Gaiman won British Fantasy Awards in the following categories:

        2006 Best Novel for Anansi Boys

        2007 British Fantasy Award, collection, for Fragile Things

        2009 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel shortlist for The Graveyard Book

        2010 British Fantasy Award, comic/graphic novel, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, by Gaiman and Andy Kubert

    In 2010, Gaiman won Shirley Jackson Awards in the following categories:

        2010 Best Novelette for "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains"

        2010 Best Edited Anthology for Stories: All New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (William Morrow)

    1991 World Fantasy Award for short fiction for the Sandman issue, "A Midsummer Night's Dream", by Gaiman and Charles Vess

    1991–1993 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer

    1997–2000 Comics Buyer's Guide Award for Favorite Writer nominations

    1997 Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Defender of Liberty award

    1999 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for the illustrated version of Stardust

    2003 British Science Fiction Association Award, short fiction, for Coraline

    2004 Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for Scenario for The Sandman: Season of Mists

    2005 The William Shatner Golden Groundhog Award for Best Underground Movie, nomination for MirrorMask The other nominated films were Green Street Hooligans, Nine Lives, Up for Grabs and Opie Gets Laid.

    2005 Quill Book Award for Graphic Novels for Marvel 1602

    2006 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Anansi Boys

    2007 Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award

    2007 Comic-Con Icon award presented at the Scream Awards.

    2009 Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book

    2009 Audie Award: Children's 8–12 and Audiobook of the year for the audio version of The Graveyard Book.

    2009 The Booktrust Teenage Prize for The Graveyard Book

    2010 Gaiman was selected as the Honorary Chair of National Library Week by the American Library Association.

    2010 Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book, becoming the first author to have won both the Carnegie and Newbery Medals for the same work.

    2011 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation (with Richard Clark) for The Doctor's Wife

    2012 Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the University of the Arts

    2013 National Book Awards (British), Book of the Year winner for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

    2016 University of St Andrews Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters

    2018 Nomination for the New Academy Prize in Literature.

    2019 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, "celebrat[ing] authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community." Gaiman was given the award "for advocating for freedom of expression worldwide and inspiring countless writers."


Book summary:

An adventurous 11-year-old girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets. When Coraline moves to an old house, she feels bored and neglected by her parents. She finds a hidden door with a bricked up passage.

In other media



Coraline inspired the "Coralisa" segment of The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XXVIII", which aired on 22 October 2017. Neil Gaiman provided the voice of the Simpsons' cat, Snowball V.


Main article: Coraline (film)


With the help of the animation studio Laika, director Henry Selick released a stop motion film adaptation in 2009 that received critical acclaim. At the 82nd Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature but lost to Pixar's Up. In the film, Coraline is depicted as having short blue hair and freckles. Henry Selick added a new character, Wyborn "Wybie" Lovat, who is an annoyance at first to Coraline in the real world but she grows to like him. In the Other World he cannot speak, but is an ally to Coraline. At the end of the film, Coraline reaches out to help Wybie tell his grandmother what is behind the little door.

Comic books


A comic book adaptation, published in 2008, was illustrated by P. Craig Russell and lettered by Todd Klein.


Main article: Coraline (musical)


A theatrical adaptation, with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt and book by David Greenspan, premiered on 6 May 2009, produced by MCC Theater and True Love Productions Off-Broadway at The Lucille Lortel Theatre.[9] Nine-year-old Coraline was played by an adult, Jayne Houdyshell, and the Other Mother was played by David Greenspan.

Video games

Main article: Coraline (video game)


A video game adaptation, based on the film, was published and developed by D3 Publisher of America. The game was released on 27 January 2009 for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS and Wii platforms and contains features such as playing as Coraline, interacting with other characters, and playing minigames. The game received mostly negative reviews.


Main article: Coraline (opera)


An opera by Mark-Anthony Turnage, based on the novella, made its world premiere at the Barbican Centre in London on 27 March 2018.



Philip Pullman

Neil Gaiman made his name as a writer of graphic novels, but he showed himself to be a skilful novelist of the text-only sort, too, with American Gods, an exceptionally original fantasy-horror story. That book showed that Gaiman had a rich imagination, a clear and effective prose style, and an ability to tackle large themes. So I was looking forward to Coraline, his new children's novel, and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was enthralled.


The story occupies a territory somewhere between Lewis Carroll's Alice and Catherine Storr's classic fantasy of warning and healing, Marianne Dreams. Coraline lives alone with her parents in a flat in an old house, the other flats being occupied by an eccentric old man who trains mice, and two elderly retired actresses. Coraline's parents are kindly but absent-minded and preoccupied with their work, so Coraline - who seems to be about Alice's age - has had to rely on herself, not only for entertainment, but also for sensible things like eating and washing and putting herself to bed.


The narrative voice is not Coraline's, but hers are the only thoughts and feelings we are told about, so she is at the centre of the story. This is the best point of view from which to tell a story about a child: the telling voice is an adult's, so it can plausibly observe and say things a child would not, but all the sympathy is with the child. Gaiman brings it off with a skill that you wouldn't notice unless you were looking for it.


And the matter-of-fact tone is important, because this is a marvellously strange and scary book. When Coraline finds a door that opens into another flat strangely like her own, but subtly different (thus making the classic transition from here, where we live, to there, where the mysteries begin), we believe what we're told. And when she discovers a sinister woman there, who looks a little like her mother but has eyes that are big black buttons, the matter-of-factness of the woman's response when Coraline says "Who are you?" is both disarming and terrifying. "I'm your other mother," she says.


And so begins a struggle for Coraline's soul. Gaiman is too intelligent and subtle to invoke the supernatural - this is much more mysterious than that - and too wise to let Coraline face the horrors alone: she has an ally in a sardonic and very feline cat. But the dangers are real, and part of the richness of the story comes from the fact that it offers many meanings without imposing any. For example, when the other mother shows Coraline a mirror in which she sees her real parents, and hears them seeming to say "How nice it is, not to have Coraline any more . . . Now we can do all the things we always wanted to do," we can see for a moment what it would be like to read the story as the acting-out of some unconscious sense of rejection on Coraline's part; but it is touched on so lightly that a moment later it's left behind. The story is much too clever to be caught in the net of a single interpretation.


Gaiman's ear is acute. At one point the other mother says of Coraline's real parents: "If they have left you, Coraline, it must be because they became bored with you," to which Coraline replies stoutly: "They weren't bored of me." With and of: the words catch their two voices exactly. This invention reaches to the smallest details. In the other flat, the toys are alive: at one point a little tank tips over on its back in its eagerness to greet her, and when Coraline sets it upright, it flees under the bed in embarrassment.


There is much more. There is the creepy atmosphere of the other flat - the scariest apartment since the one in David Lynch's film Lost Highway; there is the tender and beautifully judged ending; and above all, there is Coraline herself, brave and frightened, self-reliant and doubtful, and finally triumphant. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, rise to your feet and applaud: Coraline is the real thing.


Book Awards

Hugo AwardNebula Award for Best Novella

Book Publishers

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