Book vs. movie: Coraline

I’ve been waiting for ages to introduce the kids to “Coraline.” Because it’s fun when you can share your favorite authors with your kids. (I’ve already introduced them to C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and Kate DiCamillo, among others.) They can be a little dubious about creepy or scary things, though, so I wasn’t too sure how this was going to go, since “creepy” is basically Neil Gaiman’s signature move. Luckily, they were decidedly un-creeped out and liked the book. They especially liked how clever Coraline was in outwitting the button-eyed other mother and saving her parents. And they liked that there was a cat. We’re cat fans around here.

As usual, once we’ve read the book, we can watch the movie.

I adored the movie when it first came out in 2009, because I adore everything Laika (if you haven’t seen “Kubo and the Two Strings,” do so now) and because I felt that — even despite the changes to the plot and the tossed-in character who wasn’t in the book — the movie had done the book justice. Funnily enough, I didn’t quite feel the same this time around. A little of Wybie goes a long way. Coraline isn’t quite as matter-of-fact self-sufficient as she is in the book, and she’s a lot more irritable. And changing the ending means Coraline doesn’t exactly save the day on her own, and needs Wybie to roar in and do it for her. (But child protagonists are supposed to solve their own problems.)

Still, the stop-motion animation is incredible, the musical sequences are fantastic and the visuals achieve the right mix of gorgeous and weird. So I still adore it.

The kids picked up on the differences between book and movie pretty quickly; I like to make sure they notice these things, so they learn to think critically about what they’re reading or watching. They were fans of the book, but their verdict on the movie was mixed. My daughter, who is scared by very little, thought the movie was too scary. My son, who dislikes scary things, thought the movie was awesome. Go figure.

We’re currently experiencing Snowpocalypse 2017, so we’ll either be inside reading or outside sledding. Stay warm, fellow Northeasterners.

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