Neil Gaiman created an incredible book when he wrote Coraline. It contains just enough unusual and creepy events taking place to keep students begging for more. Coraline’s family moves into a large house in the country. The house is divided into four apartments. Upstairs lives the crazy old man who talks of training mice. Downstairs two old ladies live who once were actresses. The fourth apartment is empty. Coraline is bored with little to do in her new home.
One rainy day, Coraline discovers the 14th door in her apartment that is locked. Her mother uses an old key to show Coraline that the door was used when the building was one large house. The opening behind the door has now been bricked up because there is an apartment next door.
Coraline’s curiosity gets the best of her, so one day while her parents are away, she fetches the key and opens the door again. Instead of a brick wall, Coraline finds a dark passageway. She goes through the passageway and finds a home very similar to her own. She also finds two parents that look like her own parents except they have button eyes. These two people call each other the other parents. They are attentive to Coraline. For a while, she likes them.
The other house has some interesting features like magical toys, a theater where the two old actresses are young and perform, and the old man from upstairs really does have a rat circus. After a while, Coraline finds the other world and her other parents to be scary. Her other parents want to sew buttons over her eyes so she can stay with them forever.
Read Coraline to see how she copes with these strange events.
Book Unit Samples
Check out this novel study sample for Chapter 1. This sample includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, and a constructed response question on the setting.
Teaching Idea #1 – The Movie Trailer
Teaching Idea #2 – Coraline The Play
This short two-minute video highlights the play presented by the San Francisco Playhouse. Use it as a hook for the book. Ask students questions after they have watched the clip to pique interest in the book.
- The music sets the mood. What does it tell the listener about the story? How does the music make you feel?
- What is going on with the buttons over the characters’ eyes?
- What does the lady mean when she says she is Coraline’s other mother?
- The actresses say Coraline is in terrible danger. What could this danger be?
Teaching Idea #3 – On the Web
Have students use this Coraline coloring page for a book cover for printables for the unit.
This book review has some great artwork to use for class discussions.
PowerPoint going over “The Language of Film” The PowerPoint goes over sequence, symbolism, setting, and more using still images from the film.