Monday, March 8, 2010

Closing Thoughts: Coraline

# of pages: 162
Total pages: 7,391
Avg pages/book: 321.35

Ahh! My pages-per-book number is dying!!!

As usual, Gaiman crafts a really creative tale of dark fantasy, this time targeted for younger readers. The book actually had all the qualities of a classic Roald Dahl tale, only much darker. (And I realize that Roald could get kinda creepy, but he never had, say, three hollowed-out children whose souls had been slowly eaten away and were now locked in a closet) Your protagonist is an adventurous youngster with busy parents, constantly misunderstood and underappreciated by the adults in her life, who finds a magical world behind a magic door. Said child eventually has to save the day by rescuing her parent and defeating an evil witch-like entity. It's definitely a winning formula.

At times, Coraline reads like a ghost story, like a haunted house on steroids. When I was a kid, I remember the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series of books were quite popular with my classmates. Similarly, my friends and I loved to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon. Looking back, some of those stories were downright creepy, and it just never bothered me at that age. I think Coraline fits into that category. I'm not sure why kids (say, 10-14 or so) have such an appetite for the supernaturally spooky, but my guess is I'd have been less creeped out by Gaiman's Coraline at age twelve than I was at age twenty-seven.

That said, it's definitely a reminder that I want to be reading what my kid is reading as he grows up, so we can discuss things like Coraline to make sure we're developing a nice healthy appetite for fantasy, keeping things like good and evil in perspective, and not just fostering nightmare fodder. :-)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Books 23, 24, and 25 of 65

So, it looks like I'm going back into one of those crazy things where I'm reading four books at once, right?

Well, not really. These are mostly pretty short books. One is for kids, one is for young adults, and the other is only 247 small pages.

There goes my page count average.

One was on my original list, and the others I'm adding.

Book 23: Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
I'm reading the actual novel, not the graphic novel that came afterward. I haven't seen the movie. I'm just thoroughly curious as to what this dark fantasy is all about. It's received really, really high praise according to the front page of the book, and it has a slew of awards to its credit (ALA Notable Children's Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, IRA/CBC Children's Choice, Publisher's Weekly Best Book, Hugo Award for Best Novella, just to name a few). Small pages, 162, and double-spaced. Should be finished with it very quickly.

Book 24: Moonraker, by Ian Fleming
James Bond novel. Why? Well, I've never read a James Bond novel. I'm also using it as research for a story I want to write. I tried to get the first Bond novel, Casino Royale (I have seen that movie, for the record), but not a single library in the Houston area has it, and the interlibrary loan program appears to be a joke. This is the earliest novel in the series I've been able to find, so I'm going with it for now.

Book 25: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, by Verna Aardema
This was on my original suggested list.'s a Reading Rainbow book. The author wrote a ton of children's books which all seem to have an African theme. Here, you know what? I don't think I need a separate post for before and after reading this book. Hold on, I'll be right back.


Okay, done. That was a nice book :-) I liked the rhyme and the rhythm, and the repetitive nature of the narrative is reminiscent of some books and songs I remember growing up with (There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, for example, or There's a Hole in the Middle of the Sea) so that it would be a book younger readers could probably memorize pretty easily. I can see how this would stick with a child long after they'd outgrown this type of book. The pictures were fun and colorful, too.

Page count is now at 7229, with an average of 328.59 per book. Dang, that really brought me down.