Extraordinary Navigators:  An Examination of Three Heroines in Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls, and MirrorMask

Danya David


Few author/illustrator teams have rendered a child’s journey through the dark world with such psychological and emotional complexity as the duet of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.  Their stories are as eerie, scary, and thrilling for the child reader as they are for the adult.  But more impressive than their rendering of ghastly fantasy worlds is their creation of the intrepid heroines who navigate them. With their novella Coraline, their picturebook The Wolves in the Walls, and their illustrated film script MirrorMask, Gaiman and McKean present their readers with three wildly courageous, loyal, resourceful, and emotionally strong female protagonists, who are resolved to rescue their families and homes from chaos and evil. Thrown into realms of distortion and illusion, Coraline, Lucy, and Helena glean information from their intuition and dreaming, and skillfully manipulate art, language, and narrative, in order to discern, define, and reclaim borders. Ultimately, these powerful heroines navigate and triumph over sinister worlds.

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680