Chris Riddell is doing illustrations for the British children’s edition of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book while Dave McKean is doing an adult version. And now Neil has posted a few of Riddell’s illustration on his blog here and I must say, they creep me out. But then I also find Dave McKean‘s illustrations for Coraline too scary for my students and don’t show them when I read the book aloud.
For that matter, the forthcoming graphic novel of Coraline with illustrations by P. Craig Russell is also problematic for me because Coraline looks way too old in it for me. I guess I had always imagined Coraline to be around the same age as Alice — eight or nine, close to the age of my students. But the graphic novel makes her look several years older. Closer to the girl in Mirrormask than my imagined image of Coraline.
What strikes me about this is that kids eight to ten are getting a bit squeezed out here. I mean, there are the more sophisticated picture books that they love such as Gaiman and Grimley’s Dangerous Alphabet, but then there is a BIG leap upward to Coraline and The Graveyard Book in terms of illustration. Sure, some of my students will go for both, but many will not. And I think that is too bad because I think Coraline is very much for them. I’ve read it aloud many times with great success. But those illustrations are scary, scary, scary!