Neil Gaiman & Famous Friends Read Aloud the Entirety of Coraline (and The Graveyard Book Too)

One of the many plea­sures of hear­ing a children’s author read­ing his or her own work is their over­whelm­ing lack of vocal sen­ti­ment. When my chil­dren were young, I always opt­ed for the horse’s mouth, over the more histri­on­ic char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of a hired nar­ra­tor, regard­less of what sit­com or Broad­way play he or she may have starred in. It might have tak­en author E.B. White 17 takes to lay down a track for Charlotte’s Web’s tit­u­lar character’s death scene, but he even­tu­al­ly achieved the healthy remove that lets the listener—not the reader—wallow in the val­ley of deep emo­tions.

Neil Gaiman’s Cora­line is not a weepie, like White’s best loved work. Instead, it rev­els in a sort of under­stat­ed creepi­ness en route to the hor­rif­i­cal­ly bizarre. It’s a tone his fel­low lit­er­ary celebs are bliss­ful­ly well equipped to deliv­er, read­ing chap­ters aloud in hon­or of the book’s 10th anniver­sary. You can see them read all of the chap­ters here and also above and below.

Gaiman him­self book­ends the pro­ceed­ings by claim­ing the first (above) and final chap­ter. Lucky that. One shud­ders to think of the myr­i­ad ways in which a nar­ra­tor of cute­si­er sen­si­bil­i­ties could have screwed up phras­es like “oom­pah oom­pah” and “squidy brown toad­stools” (thus blight­ing the entire book).

I con­ceive of these read­ings as a mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tor audio­book because the per­form­ers are read­ing, rather than attempt­ing to act out the text in their hands, but real­ly it’s more of a video sto­ry­time. Gaiman is def­i­nite­ly on point in front of the camera—his large brown eyes, promi­nent pro­boscis and stringy ster­n­oclei­do­mas­toid mus­cles adding to the pro­ceed­ings.

Sand­wiched in between the master’s per­for­mances, you will find such lumi­nar­ies as authors R.L. Stine, John Hodg­man, and Daniel “Lemo­ny Snick­et” Han­dler, framed so that he has no head. For­mer child star Fairuza Balk would’ve made a gim­crack Cora­line back in the day, but her ren­di­tion of the book’s penul­ti­mate chap­ter sug­gests that she’s even bet­ter suit­ed to the role of Coraline’s “Oth­er Moth­er,” or rather her dis­em­bod­ied hand. Bed­lam, indeed.

Lis­ten to the 10th Anniver­sary Cel­e­bra­tion of the book in its entire­ty here.

Should that leave you want­i­ng more, Harp­er Collins has com­piled a stem to stern playlist of Gaiman read­ing 2008’s The Grave­yard Book, culled from var­i­ous videos of the author on tour. You can watch it above, or find it in our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Neil Gaiman’s Free Short Sto­ries

Neil Gaiman Reads “The Man Who For­got Ray Brad­bury”

Where Do Great Ideas Come From? Neil Gaiman Explains

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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  • Cat says:

    Neil has nar­rat­ed a num­ber of his works includ­ing Amer­i­can Gods, Nev­er­where and Star­dust. And I’m rea­son­ably sure he was also nar­rat­ed both Cora­line and The Grave­yard Game as well.

    This is, to my knowl­edge, the first fill-cast ver­sion of this work.

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