Sunday, February 8, 2009

Like sending coals to Newcastle

Chances are you've heard about Coraline. It's the name of a movie released in theatres on Friday. It's based on the book by Neil Gaiman, an author I'm just beginning to appreciate.

I'd heard about Gaiman before--mostly from my best friend who loved the Sandman comics--but there are so many things to read... Gaiman got lost in the shuffle. Then I was in a bookstore and saw a book called Stardust. I remember that was adapted into a movie too. I started reading it and I could not put it down. The book had magic and wit, kind of like William Golding's The Princess Bride (another delightful book). But that was the only Gaiman I had around me. One thing led to another, and I forgot about looking for his other works.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I realised the fancy-shmancy, 3-D movie Coraline is based on Gaiman's book. Interesting. I love stop-motion animation, so I thought I'd check out the film at least. Thursday rolled around, and shortly after tuning in to CBC Radio One at work, I heard that Neil Gaiman was going to be there for an interview. It was very well done. He sounds smart, funny, and likeable. He mentioned this quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales are good, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." I may not have that word-for-word, so if it's wrong, let me know.

Anyway, I read Coraline today. Creepy, but sweet. It makes me wish I was a kid again, discovering similar stories for the first time.

There will be more Gaiman on the way. I picked up M is for Magic, a collection of his short stories, and I'm browsing his blog (see my blog list). Here's the dedication for that book: "Writing imaginary tales for children is like sending coals to Newcastle. For coals." I thought that was funny.

P.S. NG's latest book, The Graveyard Book, recently won the Newbery Medal. I remember picking up Newbery winners when I was a kid because they were automatic good reads (or they were to me). Read his fantastic account of how he heard the news here.

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