Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 11 Aug 02 11:03
I think it's because Coraline is also a sensible girl who tends to take the fantastic as soberly as she takes ordinary life. Her ordinary life is pretty odd anyway. And I might have been unusual, but I always did feel a sense of threat in the Alice books. There's a difference, though, in that Alice didn't have a persistant antagonist the way Coraline does.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 13:45
And now I'm trying to remember...was there an Other Mouse Circus?
"Et toi" is French, and so you're a crack muffin. (madman) Sun 11 Aug 02 13:56
No, on the Other Side he had (or _was_) the rats, rather than mice.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 13:58
Oh, right. Hmmm.
"Et toi" is French, and so you're a crack muffin. (madman) Sun 11 Aug 02 14:07
And I'd like to say that the rats were one of my favorite things in the book. For one simple reason- Neil didn't seem to feel obligated to tie _everything_ in, or together. The rats had their little... song, once in a dream and twice other than that, if I recall correctly, and yet during the book itself, they didn't "rise". It was an ominous threat in the background, and it didn't get pulled into the foreground. I really liked that.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 11 Aug 02 14:59
I guess this is a spoilers topic.... Bad guys can bluff, bad guys can be wrong.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 11 Aug 02 20:38
I rather suspected that the rats were real, or at least, that they might have been realler than most of the other things on the other side -- working for the Other Mother, rather than created by her. (After all, she sent them on errands, and used them as her eyes...) They certainly have plans to rise -- not immediately, though. They are patient.
The Other (stagewalker) Sun 11 Aug 02 20:45
Now that raises a question I hadn't given much thought to... Are there more adventures in store for Coraline? There was some discussion among those of us who made the reading in Oakland, but I hadn't re-considered it until this comment about the rats? Should we expect a Coraline versus the Rats? or anything else like that? Or is this the last we've seen of this pragmatic explorer?
Erynn Miles (erynn-miles) Sun 11 Aug 02 21:06
I love the book, and love this discussion, although I really don't have anything to add right now except that parts of pages 9,10, and 29 made my mouth water.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 11 Aug 02 22:15
Stagewalker -- I doubt it. I think that that was Coraline's story -- after all, another story with her in it would have to be as good or better than CORALINE, and I'm not sure I want to go there. The next children's story is mostly set in a graveyard, and will have a boy as a hero. Erynn -- it's a very foody book, isn't it?
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 11 Aug 02 22:17
May we talk about the Misses Spink and Forcible? They're retired from the stage, where to hear them talk about it, they played nothing but Shakespeare leads. But they don't talk so posh when they're at home. Miss Forcible says she'd prefer not to be retired and Miss Spink is not interested in playing the Nurse. And they're right when they read the tea leaves, and about stones with holes in them. They're much more interesting than a lot of maiden-lady neighbors in books. Have you met them or their sisters?
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 11 Aug 02 22:18
It's a very foody book, but the protagonist disapproves of a lot of foods, which (as someone who disapproves of a lot of foods) delighted me no end.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 11 Aug 02 23:49
Well, Misses Spink and Forcible are -- not inspired by, more sort of took root from, my old elocution teacher, Miss Webster. I was handed over to her around the age of nine, to cure a lisp, and she did that almost by the way and by the age of 16 I'd taken my LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) Gold Medal and was working on the Teacher's Diploma. She and her ladyfriend who she lived with had a posse of Scottie Dogs. Neither of them is exactly Miss Spink or Miss Forcible, but they set my mind off in that direction.... People are so interesting, and so odd. Kids assume that it's only their families who are weird and everyone else's are normal, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 23:52
That explains your extraordinary stage presence.
The Other (stagewalker) Mon 12 Aug 02 10:53
That was one thing that I couldn't figure out, but simply decided to accept... that Spink and Forcible would know to give her the stone.. that it might be helpful.. that they can read tea leaves accurately... but still seem rather oblivious to the reality of Coraline's situation. Normally people who give you magical objects to help you on your adventure have got it a bit more together than that. *grin*
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 12 Aug 02 12:39
But adults do know a lot of things which could be helpful to children while, on the whole, being oblivious to children's situations....
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 12 Aug 02 12:57
But maybe they were simply gave it to her mindlessly, like here's something we have lying around that this child might like. I suppose I should go back and re-read that section to see if it was given to her with some importance or foreshadowing of its usefulness.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 12 Aug 02 13:15
Oh no, they gave it to her deliberately. Fished through a lot of other interesting little things looking for it specifically. "And be very, very careful," Miss Spink said; fished around, found the stone, gave it to Coraline, and told her, "It might help. They're good for bad things, sometimes." I loved all the little Scotties on the other side. By turns they're gruff, mournful, or grateful with Coraline; but when it comes to their people, the other Misses Spink and Forcible, they're so totally admiring and enthusiastic, as only certain dogs can be. ("Yes! It is!" and wild applause: why, that's one of my most favorite parts of the whole book.) People will go on about the cat, but Neil, you're sound on certain little dogs, too.
Arlene Green (averde) Mon 12 Aug 02 19:03
I think people are more struck by the cat because dogs are pretty easy to figure out. Cats are harder to read. But the dogs were good. The interesting thing for me about this book is that those of my children that are readers (specifically the 9 year old and the 11 year old) really got into this book. I wasn't sure they would because they are boys. The only girl I have is not quite 3 and a little young for this kind of thing yet. That was surprising for me. I don't know why--I certainly read about a zillion books and enjoyed them that had male protagonists--but it did. So, since this was essentially written for your girls, did you see it also being appealling to boys? Because apparently it is.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 12 Aug 02 21:14
Stagewalker -- as Martha says. Adults know things that can help. But are pretty clueless much of the time. Martha -- Maddy's favourite character is the little dog. She says she doesn't like the dogbat scene because she hates to think of the little dog turned into one of them. Arlene -- I'm not surprised. I mean, it's not a book about being a girl, it's a book about a person facing the forces of darkness and winning. Boys can get into that as easily as girls, and adults as easily as kids. When I was a boy, I cared most about Lucy in the Narnia books, about Dorothy in the Oz books, and we won't even go into all the books I inherited from my mum -- all the Dimsie books, and the Chalet Schools, and so on. If the story was good, I was there. (I preferred Worrals to Biggles. Better stories.) When I wrote Sandman, it was a source of astonishment that women were suddenly reading comics, which I attributed to them being interested in the stories and the people... But then, Sandman wasn't a boys' comic. And Coraline isn't a girls' book.
Arlene Green (averde) Mon 12 Aug 02 21:41
Neil- I think I knew that. In fact, if I would have thought a little harder about it I probably could have answered myself. Must be some kind of residual sexism on my part or something...I liked it so they might not. Who knows. As far as little old ladies and stones and what they know... My experience with little old ladies has been that they are usually less clueless than most but they take some kind of perverse pleasure out of making you figure it out on your own. I saw my Aunt Bethany in those two. She was always pulling things like that and I didn't catch on until I was an adult that she knew far more than she let on.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 12 Aug 02 22:35
Girls are always having to identify with boys in interesting books. There are only so many Alices and Dorothys and Lucys. I'm glad that boys who like stories like Coraline, but I'm not shocked. I'm with Maddy. The little Scottie is so sweet, it's awful to think about bad things happening to him. It's hard to believe, as well, that the Other Mother had a lot to do with making him what he was when Coraline met him. He just partook so much of, I suppose, the original Scotties. How did Holly like the book when it was finally finished to be read? Was it different for her, as a nearly grown-up person, than for Maddy? (Not to mention that they're different people anyway.)
the chick with the mouse (but not the circus) (miss-mousey) Mon 12 Aug 02 23:33
Holah, I'm curious what the ratio is between children reading/hearing the book and adults reading it for themselves. I mean, I know there are children out there that have read/heard the story, but my own copy (which I will get back *some*day) has circulated among adults exclusively, all of whom are discovering that sure, this is a book supposedly for children, but really it's very obviously written for them - it's just *disguised* as a book for younger readers. And my own rats would like to know why the mice and the cats are always the goodies and poor little rat-things are always on the side of the baddies.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 13 Aug 02 00:49
<scribbled by soukup>
Jouni (jonl) Tue 13 Aug 02 05:22
Email from Jouni: --POSSIBLE SPOILERS-- Neil -- I agree with Maddy!! (I was quite upset by the dogbat scene too) 'The next children's story is mostly set in a graveyard, and will have a boy as a hero.' Does it have rats also? The rats in Coraline were positively creepy (loved the ratsong)!!! OK. A REAL question then... ahem... Dave did (once again) a wonderful job with his illustrations. How precisely did you describe the characters (for example Coraline and her parents) looks to him? Who decided which scenes were illustrated? Jouni (Latent dog person, perhaps?)
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