cover image CORALINE


, , read by the author. . Harper Children's Audio, $18 (, unabridged, two cassettes, three hours, $18 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-06-082543-0

Bestselling horror/fantasy author Gaiman (a Brit now living in the States) masterfully brings to life his first book for children, a spine-tingling adventure pitting a curious girl against some unusual perils. Effortlessly shifting between a low, quiet tone (where he sometimes sounds like Alan Rickman) to a higher-pitched, almost chipper one, Gaiman becomes young Coraline, her amusingly distracted parents, the crazy man who lives upstairs (with a Russian accent) and all the other colorful characters in his tale. When young Coraline decides to go exploring, she travels through a mysterious door in her family's flat and winds up in a spooky parallel version of her life, replete with a set of strange "other" parents as well as alternative incarnations of her neighbors. Before she can get back to her real home, she must find the lost souls of some ghost children, outwit the wicked "other" mother and find her true family. Gaiman's swift pacing and lighthearted manner bring out the humorous notes in the story and keep things from getting too chilling for young listeners. Original, eerie, techno-sounding music by the Gothic Archies helps set the scene. July 2002 HarperCollins hardcover. Ages 8-up. (June)