Coraline Jones and her parents have just moved from the big city to a dilapidated old house in Oregon.
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As she explores outside she sees a black cat watching her, and then a neighbor boy called Wybie shows up and they make friends. He turns out to be their landlady's grandson, and tells her that her new house usually doesn't rent to people with children. Coraline also meets her neighbors, two retired actresses and an old Russian acrobat.
Back at home, her parents are well intentioned but inattentive, since they are both distracted by their work on a gardening magazine. Coraline loves them but feels a bit lonely and displaced in the new house. Bored, she explores the entire old house and finds a small bricked up door. Later she wakes up in the middle of the night, and goes through the door, which she can now open.
She goes through a long corridor and discovers a mirror world on the other side. There are copies of her parents that call themselves The Other Mother and The Other Father. Aside from the fact that they have buttons instead of eyes they seem nice and friendly and treat Coraline with a lot more attention than her real parents, letting her do things she is not allowed to at home. The food tastes better and the place is magical. Coraline stays and even goes to bed in her mirror bed, but when she wakes up she is back in the real world.
Enchanted by the mirror world, and enjoying the attention and permissiveness the Other Parents give her, Coraline continues to visit, even though her eccentric neighbors warn her not to. In the mirror world there is a mute Other Wybie who guides her around, and the black cat, who can travel between and can speak in the mirror world.
Eventually the Other Mother tells Coraline that she can stay forever, but in order to do so she has to let them sew buttons on her eyes too. Coraline doesn't want to but when she tries to go home she finds the door locked, the Other Mother insists that she stay and let her sew the buttons on.
Coraline hides in a small room and discovers the ghosts three children that were trapped in this world by the Other Mother in the past. They beg her to find their eyes so they can escape. Eventually Coraline manages to escape, but when she gets home she finds her real parents have been taken by the Other Mother.
Finally Coraline confronts the Other Mother and challenges her; if Coraline can find her parents and the ghost children's eyes she can leave. If she fails, she will join them.
Best part of story, including ending:
The Other Mother is a really great villain.
Best scene in story:
I loved the performance that the old neighbor actresses put on.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that Coraline's bravery. She's selfish in the way only a kid can be, but rises to the occasion at the end.