Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coraline By Neil Gaimen

There are four steps prior to answering this final blog that you will need to complete:

I. Please download the following two documents from our site:
(Note: This is the same site you will upload your graphic novel one-pager for the final class)

Document 1: The abridged version of "A Conversation with Neil Gaimen" the author of Coraline
Document 2: Coraline Discussion Questions

II. Read through the shortened interview with Neil Gaimen for background knowledge. Read through the list of discussion questions provided for the novel Coraline. This is a resource for you to use with Coraline in the classroom.

III. Browse through any of the four sites listed below to get a feel for some of the resources available to you regarding graphic novels in the classroom. The first two links are from the author and illustrator of Coraline. The final two links will get you to Will Eisner's site and another contemporary expert in the field of comics, Scott McCloud.

IV. Finally, apply the same set of questions we used in our last post (Will Eisner) to look at the graphic novel, Coraline:

(1) What surprised you?

(2) What challenged you?

(3) What frustrated you?

(4) What do you appreciate?

Bonus: What themes emerged for you in reading Coraline that would be applicable to using with students in the classroom?


  1. 1. I think what surprised me most about Coraline was the fact that is was not as "graphic" in nature as my other experiences with graphic novels. When I had to choose an independent graphic novel, the ones I considered were the more popular ones like 300, The Spirit, and Watchmen. I ended up reading Transmetropolitan Volume 1 for my independent novel and all these novels were violent in nature. With Coraline, I saw a much softer side of the genre that still managed to tell an engaging and fascinating story.

    2. I guess my major challenge was one involving the post-reading of the novel. I was actually challenged by the idea that this story was going to be made into a major motion picture. I am really curious to see how it is portrayed on the big screen. I know that the graphic novel was based on a children's book. The graphic novel had some scary elements, but it also had a warm, positive message throughout the story. It'd be really interesting to see if they make the movie using the straight horror elements, or if they make it more family-friendly.

    3. Again, I was slightly frustrated by how to "read" the novel, although this time I felt more comfortable than with my independent graphic novel. I think the problem with my independent novel was that its setting was a major city and therefore there was just so much going on in every panel. Here, I found Coraline easier to read although there were again some parts where I debated which panel to read first. I think that because this story had a more pastoral setting then I wasn't as bogged down in trying to read every word on every frame.

    4. For this story, I came to appreciate the authors and illustrators. I found it interesting that Neil Gaiman works on multiple projects at the same time. I think it was really interesting that he finds that multi-tasking helps alleviate any writer's block. I guess I'm just used to the traditional movie where the tortured writer sits at his typewriter and consumes coffee into the wee hours of the morning working on his novel. I had no idea that writers like Gaiman have the talent to immerse themselves in multiple projects at once. It gave me a newfound respect for the authors and illustrators for their ability to bounce between projects simultaneously.

    *Bonus* I think Coraline itself has so many universal themes that relate well to students. There is the theme of boredom, alienation, curiosity, and adventure just to name a few. Students can all relate to the story because at some point in their lives they have felt out of place in their home. It's part of adolescense. I really think that the discussion questions for the book would be great stepping stones for engaging students. I think that each and every one of them can relate to Coraline in some way, shape, or form.

  2. Question 1 & Bonus: One of the things that surprised me most about this graphic novel was the universality of some of the themes that it explored, some of which included: imagination, boredom, adventure, family love, independence, growing up, and more. I have started to learn at how effective graphic novels can be in encouraging the reluctant reader to read more. What I hadn’t considered yet, though, were the abundance of themes contained in these novels that make these stories personally relevant to different readers in different ways. This lets students connect with the text in different ways, which potentially increases the number of students that feel the text is personally relevant to them and to their interests.

    Question 2: For the first two chapters, I was challenged in respect to “getting into” the story and becoming invested in the plot. I think a lot of this had to do with my unfamiliarity with reading and appreciating graphic novels. When you’re uncomfortable, relaxing and investing in what you’re working with can be difficult. This was a great lesson to learn now as a teacher, because it is the same thing that a lot of our students probably experience in my classroom with reading a math textbook if this is a type of text they are unfamiliar in working with.

    Question 3: As a reader, one of the hardest and most frustrating parts for me when it came to actually reading the graphic novel was figuring out the frame progression. This is the first graphic novel that I have ever read, and figuring out the progression of which panel followed which and what order they should be read in was difficult for a new user of this text. It took me a while to get used to this, and to figure out how the novel flowed.

    Question 4: One of the things that I appreciated the most about the structure of this graphic novel was how suspense was built by the timing of the frames. Looking back at just the text of the novel and disregarding the frames in which the dialogue and illustrations are set, you can quickly see what would be lost without this element. Panels without dialogue space out the action and create a heightened feeling of suspense. The way in which the panels are arranged contributes so greatly to this element of the plot development.

  3. 1. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this graphic novel. Coraline is the first graphic novel I've ever read and I had always felt somewhat of an aversion to them, possibly because I never had an interest in comics. I think the other part of my aversion was due to the fact that I saw graphic novels as being mostly violent, filled with imaginary male characters. Coraline appealed to me because the main character was female and because her story was both a physical and emotional adventure. I was surprised by how much I liked this novel. I was also surprised by how scary it was. I remember seeing the previews for the film that was based on it and thinking it looked like a kid's movie, but now I feel it might be too scary for a lot of kids.

    2. What challenged me was actually figuring out how to read the book. I read it before I read Will Eisner's book so I didn't really have any idea about the style of grahpic novels or how they are meant to be read. I didn't realize that certain types of panels conveyed certain lengths of time or that different types of bubbles represented either talking or thinking. I was able to infer about the meaning of some of these stylistic elements; however, it did not all come full circle until I had read Will Eisner's book. To be honest, picking up the book and gettnig started was a challenge, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.

    3. I was only frustrated in my empathy for Coraline's character in the story, not by reading it, as I was able to follow the novel pretty well. I hated the evil fake parents! I felt frustrated for Coraline, being stuck in that unreal, scary world. At times I got a little lost between frames (which one comes next?), but for the most part I was able to follow the novel, and with a little re-reading here and there, it read pretty smoothly.

    4. I really apreciated how engaging this graphic novel was, both visually and through the storyline. I couldn't put it down and was captivated from page to page. I appreciated the panels that didn't have dialogue just as much as those that did. These provided great moments for really reflecting on what was happening in the story, which is such an important, meaningful part of reading any type of book. I also appreciated the strength and resilience of Coraline's character. Putting a young girl as the strong heroine of the story was really great. All around, a great book!

    Bonus - Themes that emerged for me that could be used for teaching were: family, individuality, the idea of idealism (appreciating what we have, or the grass is always greener), fantasy, imagination, hero's quest.

  4. 1. What surprised me the most was actually how engrossed I got in the book. I think, clearly, it can be just as engaging for adults as it can be for children, especially ELs. I was surprised and impressed by the ability of a graphic novel to pretty seamlessly blend images and text in a way that you forget you're not just reading, or not just looking at pictures, but rather following a story that happens to be told this way.

    2. I found it difficult to "follow the rules", so to speak, and read in order and not look ahead to see what happens next. I'm a fast reader in general and I don't read as thoroughly as I should and therefore miss certain words and ideas but doing that here is more detrimental to your understanding of the story. Missing one panel or one piece of dialogue could change or take away from your comprehension, so I had to (try and) be patient.

    3. I wasn't really frustrated by anything. I was challenged by having to "read" more methodically than I normally do, but it wasn't a negative experience. Visually, I found Coraline much more pleasant and manageable than some of Eisner's examples.

    4. I appreciate the artistic and educational value of graphic novels such as Coraline. I'm not surprised by their growing popularity as we live in a world where images and words are increasingly inseparable and attention spans are (thus) shortened. Growing up in this era, I'm sure kids especially gravitate towards graphic novels, and they can therefore be a valuable tool in the classroom. I think it's interesting (though when I think about it not at all surprising) that graphic novels can explore serious themes and when you pair powerful images with powerful dialogue or narration, a subject can be taken to a different level. The are a perfect adaption for language learning as well and I hope I can incorporate them into my class some day.

    In Coraline in particular, I thought the layout was simple enough yet dynamic, the images were pleasing, and the dialogue was accessible (coming from an EL perspective) but also challenging. And the story was cool! I am now going to have nightmares of button eyes.

  5. (1) While I was looking through the various websites of the authors and the illustrators I was floored by the number of graphic novels and other books that they have written or illustrated that I have never even heard of. For some reason reading Coraline and then going to the websites I had the naïve belief that if I had heard of these authors and illustrators for the first time, then they couldn’t have written much. I guess that I’m still just shocked that graphic novels have become such a huge part of literature behind my back.

    (2) While reading Coraline, I was challenged when thinking about how I might be able to incorporate both the graphic novel version and the original novel into lessons for my classes, at what age those lessons would be appropriate, and then how to get the students to appreciate the novel when the graphic novel offers so much visually. Then, I became slightly annoyed with myself for being so hung up on putting the traditional novel in the forefront of the lesson. I think that my major challenge when it comes to graphic novels is still to accept for myself that graphic novels are a legitimate and instructional genre of literature.

    (3) Selfishly, the thing that frustrated me most was in the interview with Neil Gaimen when he’s talking about writer’s block and how his best strategy is to write a lot of things at once so that when he gets stuck on one project he can bounce to another that is working for him. It’s frustrating that he can write three books simultaneously, while I so obviously can’t write any. But other than that, I was frustrated with my own ignorance about the genre.

    (4) I appreciated while reading Coraline that I had a sense that the writing was reflective of the original, that it was highly literary and instructional, and that I was sure that students would be as riveted by it as I was. I also appreciated finding out from Will Eisner’s blog that there are efforts in the works to get graphic novels out into public and school libraries through showcases at the APA convention.

    Bonus: Themes in Coraline that I would find helpful for class discussion include: the idea of under appreciation, both by Coraline and the people around her; the idea of invisibility—Coraline’s in her home life and her potential invisibility as one of the forgotten children in the other world; comparisons and contrast between the real world and the other world and why those differences might exist.

  6. 1. This graphic novel ‘Coraline’ surprises me in two ways: one is the universal characteristics of children’s imagination. When children listen to some mysterious stories, they sometimes tend to exaggerate the story and start to create the imaginary world that is related to the story they have heard. I imagined the similar things when I was a child. And in this book, Caroline also had the universal characteristics such as adventure, curiosity, or deviation from the boredom as a teenager. The other thing was that Coraline has a similar scenario with Spirit Away that we watched together. Two stories have the similar themes like rescuing parents, talking with the ghost or animals and changing the identity as matured teenager, etc. All the adventures of the other world transformed both Coraline and Chihiro in the end.
    2. While I browse the website another contemporary expert in the field of comics, Scott McCloud, I watched his talking in the TED. During his Powerpoint presentation, he mentioned some history of comics that can go back to quite long time ago. Of course, at that time the comics were simply like illustrations with words, but the patterns were the same. For example, read left to right then zig zag direction on the pager and use the word balloon, etc. That was quite interesting and challenging to me since I thought comics are pretty modern art, but in other parts of the world and different types of illustrations already existed in the stone, paper, or columns.
    3. I liked comic books a lot when I grew up so when I read an interview with the author Neil Gaiman, I totally understood what he mentioned his childhood with obsessed with reading books. But the comic books I read were mostly illustrated colorless but beautifully described the main character and others. That is more close to manga. While I was reading Coraline, personally I disliked the description of black rats and most people don’t like the rats I think. So I read those parts as quickly as possible. Compare to manga, the graphic novel has full of colors, in this sense, it is definitely challenging for me to read this detailed and colored illustrations. It is necessary but it could be negative side of detailed illustration of graphic novel for younger children or person like me.(No big deal but some)
    4. I appreciate to know the genre of this graphic novel for classroom implication, especially for young adults. Coraline has many advantages for educational usages like I mentioned above: adventures, stimulating curiosity, value of family bond and love, and helping other people (ghost). Above all, the main character, Coraline, is a teenager like other young adults. So there is much common ground for the students.
    Bonus: There are many themes to consider or discuss after reading Coraline with students as an educational way like questions for discussion which we read. Coraline was a complainer in the beginning of the story like many teenagers. They sometimes don’t appreciate what they have or possess around their lives and takes for grant it. In the story, Coraline wasn’t aware of gratitude of parents’ love until they disappeared. While she was having adventure, she began to notice the value of this gratitude and without noticing herself; she transformed herself as a different personality.

  7. 1) What surprised me most is how hooked I am by graphic novels. When I started readed Coraline I thought I would read just what was assigned as it was needed per class meeting. This was not the case. There is something about graphic novels that just draw me in. Once Coraline found herself in her new world, I simply could not put the book down until I finished it in its entirety. Additionally, I was surprised with the deeper meaning behind Coraline. I took away the idea that you should be grateful for what you have and that you do not know what you have until its gone. Fortunately for Coraline, she had a second chance (amen for fiction!!). I think I have become a graphic novel lover and that is most surprising of all.

    2.) I was most challenged by the idea of at what age is it appropriate for students to start reading graphic novels so that they can enjoy it for not only the story, but the deeper meaning behind it? If I were teaching I would want to find a way to effectively incorporate graphic novels in with other readings to help supplement the lessons being taught. I think it would be a great idea to have Eisner's work be apart of that as well so students can learn about the strategies used when reading graphic novels.

    3.) I surprisingly was not frustrated with reading Coraline. After reading Eisner's work and being a tad frustrated with his examples, it was my assumption that I would have a lot of confusion ahead of me when reading Coraline. I took to Coraline with ease and found it easy to follow and engaging.

    4. I still appreciate the deeper messages behind graphic novels, but I also appreciate the illustrations. I noticed that I am more invested in the story unfolding before my eyes when the illustrations are able to portray the feelings and emotions that the characters are going through. I did not realize just how much strategy goes into creating graphic novels in order for them to engage and entertain readers.

    Bonus: Some themes that emerged from Coraline that I think are great to incorporate in to the classroom include appreciation, real world vs. imaginary world, selflessness, and imagination.

  8. 1. I was surprised by the depth of my engagement with Coraline. I have not read Neil Gamain’s chapter book, but I think that, although I am sure I would like it, I might find it less interesting than the graphic novel. Somehow the graphic novel put the work on a more “adult” level. This is the opposite of what I would have thought prior to this experience. While I have read many wonderful works of fiction for children, and I have usually found the stories compelling, the writing itself has sometimes felt simplistic to me. This is of course necessary considering the intended audience. Experiencing a “children’s” book in the graphic novel form added another level of sophistication. There is plenty to engage a younger reader, while at the same time, there are subtle elements which might be more meaningful to an adult reader, such as the depictions of her poses when she is bored.

    I was also surpirised by the way in which the illustrations added to my experience. When a book is made into a movie, I usually feel that the images in the movie “pollute” my inner visions. If I see the movie first, it is difficult to get those images out of my head as I read the book. Conversely, if I have already read the book, I am rarely satisfied with the movie and the director’s depiction of the characters and setting. This was not the case with Coraline. The artist’s images enhanced my experience and did not interfere with my imagination. I think that this might be due to the fact that not every scene and movement is depicted. Our imagination has to kick in so that we can fill in the missing pieces. Just as with an excellent picture book, the art is an integral part of the narration, but does not substitute for our imagination. I guess I will have to read the original novel to see if the images from the graphic novel supersede my own imagination.

    2. I read Coraline before I read Will Eisner’s book, so I did not have the benefit of prior knowedge. I was challenged by my preconceptions about graphic novels. I did not consider a graphic novel to be a legitimate form of reading, let alone a legitimate art form. I thought that I would just breeze through it without much need for thought. My preconceptions were overcome fairly quickly as I got into the book. I began to recognize that I was reading something more complex than I had anticipated.

    3. I did not feel any sense of frustration while reading this graphic novel. I had a feeling of being pleasantly surprised and delighted. This is probably due to the style of the artwork. Reading Will Eisner’s Spirit comics was a bit frustrating at times because of the need to look deeply into the illustrations for important information and to discern which frames to read first and how they fit into the overall narrative. That challenge was not as evident in Coraline.

    4. I appreciated the artist’s skill and sensitivity. The style of his illustrations supported and enhanced the story. The complexity of this type of art is impressive. There is so much detail that must be considered in laying out and executing the frames. In my view, the artist was faithful to Neil Gaiman’s work while adding his own creativity. The result was a work which seamlessly blended the skills of both writer and artist.

    I also have come to appreciate the usefulness of this type of literature in the classroom. There is a potential for engagement for our visual learners that might not exist in the traditional children’s chapter book. Graphic novels can be used from kindergarten through high school. For early elementary students, this style would be a good way to introduce sequential writing. The picture support provides another way to facilitate language acquisition. For older students who are not reading up to grade level, a graphic novel provides picture support in an age-appropriate way. The student can gain confidence and skill while reading something which is relevant to his or her life. Graphic novels can serve as a springboard to reading non-illustrated works.

  9. P.S. - I read Neil Gaiman's adult novel, American Gods last summer before I knew who he was. It is a fun read, and now that I know a bit more about him, I can understand why the story is so "unusual". I recommend this book for anyone who happens to have some spare time for reading. :)

  10. As I said in my previous post, the greatest surprise for me was realizing how much I enjoyed reading this genre. I did not grow up reading comics and I truly did not know if I would like this form of literature. Another surprise was the realization that this graphic novel could not be “read” in the same manner as other books. I had to force myself to slow down in order to absorb the images.

    A challenge that I kept thinking about while reading Coraline was how to incorporate graphic stories into my kindergarten classroom. Since my students are just learning to read, I know they would LOVE to read these types of stories because the visuals would help them make meaning of the text. I teach my class to use the pictures as clues and graphic novels have many more pictures than traditional books. I would love to find some books or a series that I could use with very young students either as a whole class or perhaps a listening center.

    I did not feel myself becoming frustrated by any aspect of Coraline. I found the story engaging, the text easy to follow, and the images made everything come together. My frustration came from the fact that I do teach very young children and I feel somewhat limited by their age and ability. I would not be able to read this book in my class.

    I believe one reason I enjoyed Coraline so much is because I could appreciate the messages in the story. I would love to have a discussion based on the quote:

    “You don’t really understand, do you? I don’t want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn’t mean anything?”

    I believe students would easily discover messages about gratitude and choice throughout this text. Additionally, I would love to discuss the symbolism behind the button eyes. Perhaps we need to be able to “see” clearly and recognize other perspectives.

  11. I was surprised by the details of drawings and writings to describe Coraline's thoughts and emotions. It is simply amazing that imagination of the author can show us the specifics of ideas without trying too much. I couldn' t stop reading the book once I had started to read it. Although I foresee the end of the story, it is still so gravitating. I felt as if I was experiencing the whole thing with Coraline in the house. If I could get attached to Coraline so much as an adult, I can't imagine how children could concentrate on reading and react.

    I honestly don't get challenged nor frustrated by reading graphic novels. It has been a part of my reading experiences since I was a child. I was crying and laughing through the course of reading a variety of comics. My parents even subscribed the comic magazines for me and my two sisters to enjoy reading besides tons of great books. At first I read the plot and the story of each comics, then I reread to appreciate the drawings as a child. Therefore, I used to read the same comics at least twice to understand everything. I can't tell how much I learned through reading the graphic novels. Although I get older, my characters are still playing with me in my mind.

    The author teaches us whatever he wants effortlessly. The message can be too serious or boring in other form of reading, however, in comics like Coraline the characters are telling us or showing us the bottomline with humor and a twist directly. It is not usual to get lost in the comics because there are drawings and writings to lead the audience to the story. Also, the beauty of comics is the gravity which make the audience to be involved the experiences. It challenges us to learn somthing without letting us realized that we are challenged. This is the point which we can incorporate into teaching. The characters in a graphic novel can be a teacher to explain some tough subjects as I learned world history through the comic books.

    Coraline says that "...What kind of fun would it be if we just got everything we wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?" How would you like to answer her if you are in this graphic novel as her friend?

  12. 1.) The one thing that surprised me the most about this graphic novel was how many times I re-read a frame or chapter. I felt that the novel was an wasy read, and could be read quickly, but somehow I felt that I needed to take my time with it. I found myself reading the chapters over again after reading the chapters from the Eisner book. I wanted to make sure that I had taken all from the book that I was 'meant' too. This was suprising to me because I hadn't even heard of graphic novels prior to this and now I was obsessing on really understanding it. Perhaps, the thing that most surprised me was my fascination with graphic novels.

    2.) Something that I feel that challenges me is getting a feel for all the elements of a graphic novel. I have a co-worker at the Bookstore, who is very passionate about graphic novels. She was even gracious enough to lend me a graphic novel from her personal collection. I would talk to her about Coraline, and I always felt like I was lacking some feelings towards it. I felt like the story was an okay story, but not something I would read for fun. I guess my challenge is that I am afraid that I won't be able to really use a graphic novel in my classroom and have my students really excited about it. I feel that I won't come off as being excited and won't be able to engage my students. I strongly believe that students feed off of how a teacher presents a topic, and I would like to present the graphic novel with passion yet I am not at that point yet. I hope that this is due to the fact that I am a 'newbie' and once I have more experience with graphic novels I will be much more passionate.

    3.) At first the thing that I felt the most frustrated by in the novel was the fact that Coraline's real parents were so turned off by her. I felt like the real parents didn't even have time to look at her when they spoke to her. This fact frustrated me because I felt like it was unrealistic. Then as I continued reading, I understood that it was done in an effort so that the reader, like Coraline, would naturally love the 'other' world. Mainly, it was frustrating because I felt really bad for the character.

    4.) I appreciate the great use of the drawings in the novel. I think that although I didn't really like the basic story of the novel, I find more appreciation for it in the way it is visually presented in drawings. I feel that I have a better understanding of the meaning of the graphic novel, then if I had simply read the novel. I am glad that I didn't have to imagine the story as I read it, rather that I actually had a picture to look at as I read. This made the story really come to life for me.

    Bonus: The main theme that I would use Coraline for would be appreciation. I would have students use graphic organizers to show how all of the different characters felt appreciated or unappreciated. This could be tied into a thematic unit on appreciation for others, the enviornment, animals and so on.

  13. 1, I was surprised by the real end of the story(the hand is still alive). It seems like a Movie made in Hollywood. I had watched a movie called Sin City, which was from a graphic novel also. In graphic novel, it is convenient that you can get better understanding with pictures. I was thinking that if Coraline didn’t do something else in page 125, the end would be different.
    2, In contrast, the challenge is that I had known the end of the story while I had read the beginning. Actually, I heard the beginning of the story from Trevor. When he said”one day, the girl got bored…….” I knew what would happen to her. Except this, I cannot help comparing this book with other Mangas written by Japanese Author.
    3, Why the heroes could always overcome the difficulties? That frustrated me a little bit. They are brave, they have skills, but the most importance is that their destinies have been already written. In this point, the importance is not the end of journey but the struggles in the journey.
    4, I grow up with Manga, so I cannot’ wave the shadows of some characters away from my mind when I am reading Coraline. What I discovered heretofore is that plots are quite similar. This is the first time I read American comics book. I appreciated of knowing an unchanged, big boy, Neil Gaiman in America.
    Bonus: be honest, she seems a little bit violent. The graphic novel reminds me that we should never look down on graphic book because it can explain the meaning of life by telling a story.

  14. What surprised me most while reading Coraline was how quickly I finished the novel. In the beginning I was reading at normal pace, but as soon as things started to get interesting I just couldn’t put the book down. I was literally ignoring everyone who tried to talk to me until I finished the last page in the book. I was never really into comics and Coraline is the first graphic novel that I actually read. It made me realize that there’s a whole new (to me) genre out there that I haven’t yet discovered, but I know that I will start reading more graphic novels after my experience with Coraline. I think another reason that I got through the book so fast was because of the way it was designed. Each frame contains simple enough text and illustrations yet in a very meaningful way. I am reading the graphic novel ‘Palestine’ for my analysis, and it has taken me weeks just to get through one third of the book because of the elaborate illustrations and excessive text.

    While I was reading the novel, I felt challenged because I kept trying to compare the novel to the movie that came out last year. I went to see it but for some reason I can’t remember exactly what happened in the movie. I kept reading the story and noticing all these details and trying to comb my memory to see if these same things happened in the movie as well. Although the movie was a work of art, I decided that I enjoyed the novel much more than the movie because it made more sense to me and was easier to follow.

    I was frustrated by the gruesome details in the story. The rats, the claw-like hands, the button eyes, and the scene where she regurgitates the key were very disturbing. Even though they were an integral part of the story, I would try to quickly read the text without looking at the pictures whenever I got to one of these scenes. I kept thinking to myself: if I’m an adult and these aspects of the book are scaring me, how would a young student feel while reading this book? I guess it depends on each student individually and whether or not they can handle the graphic parts of the novel.
    I appreciate the message that this story sends to kids. Oftentimes children’s literature tries to send a message through sanguine means, but this story delves deep into issues that all children face in a very authentic way. I like the fact that Neil Gaiman chose a young girl as his protagonist in this heroic tale because it is not very often that females are presented in that light.

    Some of the themes that I noticed while reading Coraline are courage, overcoming your fears, appreciating what you have, and working hard to get what you want. There are many other themes that were embedded in the story which make it a great read for students.

  15. 1. What surprised me about Coraline is that it doesn’t really look like any of the other graphic writings that I’ve come across in this class. Also, it surprised me that I liked it. I really don’t like dark movies, and I didn’t expect to enjoy this reading. Finally, I liked how easily it flowed after I got used to the different form of reading.
    2. At first it was a challenge to follow the flow of the story at times. I would get distracted by a picture on another page before I had finished reading one, so I spent a lot of time jumping ahead and then catching up.
    3. I can’t really say that I was frustrated with anything. At times I would have liked the pictures to be a little more detailed, but I think that may have drawn attention away from the storyline.
    4. I really ended up enjoying this reading. I read it in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down. I appreciated that the mystery wasn’t very easy to figure out, although it didn’t necessarily ever become totally clear either. After reading this novel, I do appreciate graphic novels more and can see their use in the classroom environment.

  16. 1. What surprised me the most was how engaging Coraline was, as well as how terrifying the story could be. When I started reading, I planned on stopping at the end of the assigned chapter, but I could not put it down! I had to find out what happened next. The illustrations, particularly the ones of Coraline’s “Other Mother, were creepy. I can only imagine the thrill of reading this book as a child or young adult! I was engrossed in this story was captivated by the plot, characters, and pictures.
    2. The biggest challenge for me was starting to read the graphic novel. I had the same challenge when reading the comics in Will Eisner’s book as well. The first chapter was hard for me to read, especially when there were connecting speech bubbles. I felt as though my eyes were bounding up and down the pages. Once I read the first few pages though, I became accustomed to the style of graphic novels, and felt like I was reading “normally”.
    3. My frustration related to my challenge. In the beginning I was frustrated because it was difficult for me to read- which made it difficult to follow the story line. After reading the first two pages, I wanted to give up. I thought that there was no way that I could read such a long and complex graphic novel. Once I gave it another try, and learned how to comfortably read Coraline, my frustrations flew out the window ☺
    4. After reading Coraline, and the discussion questions, I appreciate all of the different ways I could use this story in the classroom. There are so many great discussion topics – that would also be great writing activities- that I would have never of thought of! I also appreciate the complexity and allure of the story. I think that children of all different ages and interest levels can relate, appreciate, and enjoy this adventurous story! A Conversation with Niel Gaiman, also gave me a greater appreciation for the hard work and thought that goes into writing a graphic novel, and showed me how large of a following there is for graphic novels!
    Bonus: Foreshadowing, appreciation, and the divide between good and evil were prominent themes that I noticed and thought would be applicable in a classroom setting.

  17. 1. What surprised me was how into the book I got! The first week we were supposed to read a few chapters...before I knew it, I was finished. I could not put the book down! I was surprised because I was sort of dreading reading it! The movie previews had kind of scared me (ha) and I did not really want to read the book. Yet, I could not stop reading it!! It was more due to the fact that I just needed to get through it and find out what happened. It made me anxious when Coraline was in the "other" house! I was very surprised with how much it affected me (but no nightmares :) )

    2. I found it challenging at times to follow the frames and keep up with the story. I went really quickly through some parts and tried to skip over pictures with the 'other mother'--but then I would miss something and have to go back. This was my second graphic novel, so I am not a very 'fluent' graphic novel reader yet!

    3. My only frustration was that I was so quick to judge the book. I found it a bit creepy at times, but I did enjoy the story and found myself completely engrossed.

    4. I appreciate the complexity of Coraline. Gaiman did a phenomenal job with the graphics and the flow of the story. After reading about how much time and work goes into the creation of a graphic novel, I have a much deeper appreciation for all authors of graphic novels.