inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #26 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #27 of 97: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 13:45
    

And now I'm trying to remember...was there an Other Mouse Circus?
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #28 of 97: "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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #29 of 97: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 13:58
    

Oh, right.  Hmmm.  
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #30 of 97: "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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #31 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #32 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #33 of 97: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #34 of 97: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #35 of 97: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #36 of 97: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #37 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #38 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #39 of 97: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 11 Aug 02 23:52
    

That explains your extraordinary stage presence.  
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #40 of 97: 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*
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #41 of 97: 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....
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #42 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #43 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #44 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #45 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #46 of 97: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #47 of 97: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #48 of 97: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #49 of 97: Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 13 Aug 02 00:49
    <scribbled by soukup>
  
inkwell.vue.156 : Neil Gaiman: Coraline
permalink #50 of 97: 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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