[DWJ] In which I get extra mileage out of a comment on someone else's blog

Kathleen Jennings kathleen.jennings at gmail.com
Thu Feb 5 18:05:44 EST 2009

I left a comment on a post on The Hathor Legacy (thehathorlegacy.com)
and then turned that into a blog post and of course got sidetracked by
DWJ (as I do), so thought I'd say something here as well!

Jennifer Kesler on the Hathor Legacy wrote about Coraline and I was
struck by her comment that "Coraline is not special. She's an ordinary
kid with ordinary parents living in an ordinary home." I've been
thinking about how few heros (or heroines) seem to be around these
days who don't have magical powers, and this made me remember how much
Coraline reminds me of Alice: unremarkable, unmagical, practical and
sensible. And I do like heroines - and characters in general - like
that. Alice in Wonderland's slightly supercilious common sense, the
remarkable scrapes E. Nesbit's children get into (whether assisted by
magic, as in The Enchanted Castle or Five Children and It, or entirely
through their own efforts, as in The Story of the Treasure Seekers),
the awful ordinariness of Edmund Pevensie and Eustace Clarence Scrubb
and Jill Pole.

So many characters are extraordinary (often secretly so): secretly
brilliant, magical, gifted, princesses, Destined, beautiful, inspired…
I enjoy stories about people whose unique qualities eventually become
recognised. But I also adore stories about utterly mundane people who
manage to get by regardless: the dull, respectable heros, the plain
practical heroines, the brave but not brilliant lassies, the smart but
silly children, the lazy Jacks of the tales, all the people who are
envious and proud and boring and irritating and who have adventures
anyway, and change, and change the world.

DWJ, of course, manages to have it both ways: quite horribly human
characters whose undiscovered abilities don't necessarily make them or
their extensive and awful families any better. And then, of course,
she makes you love them anyway (sort of the opposite of Joss Whedon,
who makes you love characters and then does awful things to them).

Jennifer's post is here: http://thehathorlegacy.com/books/neil-gaimans-coraline/
And my comments on it (and on a post about Neverwhere and Shannon
Hale's thoughts on offensive books) are here:



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