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  Bookends: Dan Davidson


Reviewed: October 21, 2009
By: adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell from the book by Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harper/Collins publishers
186 pages, $13.25

It is a very evident truth that new stories are often patterned after old stories and that each generation finds new ways to play with ideas that are almost familiar. That being the case it’s quite likely that those who have read Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline, or seen the movie (or even the theatrical musical) will have had Through the Looking Glass and what Alice Found There rattling around in their remembery as they made their way through the story.

As did Alice in that classic story, Coraline finds her way into a magical place that seems to be wonderful at first but turns out to be very dangerous.

Coraline (NOT Caroline) is a somewhat neglected young girl who has just moved into a new house and neighbourhood and who has a pair of busy and somewhat neglectful parents to contend with. Exploring the house she discovers a strange doorway which leads to what seems to be an alternate, and much more vibrant, version of her own reality, inhabited by other versions of the people from her own place, including the Other Mother and her Other Father.

Her Other parents positively dote on her in ways that almost make her forget that they have buttons where their eyes ought to be.

Just how much danger she is in and what the results of her choice might be are not clear to Coraline until she travels back to her own place and finds that her parents have gone missing. It’s up to her - says the talking cat, which can only talk in the other place - to thwart the schemes of the Other Mother and get her parents back.

P. Craig Russell, who has worked with Gaiman before in the world of comic books, has taken this book and turned it into a fine graphic novel.

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