The following is a booktalk I did in a 9th grade classroom. The teacher asked us to talk about books that would be interesting for students in 9th grade that were reading at about a 5th grade level. My coworker and I chose 15 books to booktalk, many of which were claimed by students by the end of the class period.
By Neil Gaiman
Coraline is bored. Coraline is so bored that she’ll do anything. She and her parents have just moved into an apartment. Below them are two old ladies that are of questionable mental state. Above them is an old man who keeps talking about his circus mice. Coraline likes to go exploring, especially outside. But one day it is raining. She is so bored, that she counts all of the doors and windows in her apartment. There are 21 windows and 14 doors. Out of these 14 doors, 13 open and close like normal doors. But the fourteenth door – the big, carved, brown wooden door – is locked. She asks her mother where this door goes. Her mother tells here that it goes nowhere, and unlocks it so Coraline can see that behind the door is a brick wall. That night, though, Coraline is lying awake in her bed when she hears a “creak”. Then she sees a shadow in the hall, a black shape that looks like a person. When she turns on the light, there’s nothing there. The next day, Coraline is still bored. When her mother leaves her at home alone, Coraline decides to take another look at that mysterious door. She climbs up on a chair and takes down the key ring. There is a cold iron key that must go to that door. She listens for her mother. She’s alone, so she puts the key into the keyhole and it turns. She stops again. Still alone. She slowly turns the doorknob and opens the door. Instead of bricks, there is a dark hallway that smells like something very old. She carefully walks down the hallway, until she sees something very familiar. The carpet is the same carpet in her hallway. The wallpaper is the same is her wallpaper. The picture hanging in the hall is the same picture that hangs in her hall. She looks around, confused. She couldn’t have gotten turned around in a hallway. Then she hears someone call her name. It’s her mother – only it’s not. The person standing there looks like her mother, only her skin is white as paper, she is very tall and very thin, and her fingernails are dark red, long, curved, and very sharp. And one more thing – instead of eyes, she has big, gleaming black buttons. “Coraline, we’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”