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Counting Stars (Readers Circle) by [Almond, David]
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Counting Stars (Readers Circle) Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Kindle, April 23, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the elegant, hypnotic, thoroughly engaging Counting Stars, British author David Almond, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for Kit's Wilderness and a Printz honor for Skellig, shares a collection of stories about his childhood "in a small steep town overlooking the River Tyne." Echoing the bright, witty banter of his large family in pages of fascinating dialogue, Almond recounts tales of his Catholic upbringing (where counting stars in the sky past 100 is a blasphemous attempt to know the unknown), the deaths of his father and sister, poignant stories of local boys and girls with bitter plights, a lonely old woman who keeps her lost baby in a jar, stolen kisses, whispered rumors, dreams of angels, sensual memories of warm grass and sunshine, lemon curd and marmalade. The stories are not chronological, but thematic, and they are simply beautiful. No one captures the mysticism of childhood like Almond, and his readers will be overjoyed to see the ways in which his own history is mirrored in the odd, magical worlds created in his novels. In the author's words, the stories "merge memory and dream, the real and the imagined, truth and lies. And, perhaps, like all stories, they are an attempt to reassemble what is fragmented, to rediscover what has been lost." Almond paints a landscape of the soul and shows his readers the magic of humanity. It seems he can do no less! (Ages 13 and older) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

In this evocative collection of autobiographical vignettes, Almond's writing exudes the same haunting mood that characterizes his novels (Skellig; Kit's Wilderness; Heaven Eyes). Here, readers can trace connecting threads between his published works and his childhood experiences as a sensitive, pensive English child preoccupied by the mysteries of religion, death and immortality. Rather than moving linearly, stories, set in the author's predominantly Catholic neighborhood, provide a spinning carousel of surreal images connecting different eras and piecing together fragments of memories. Town outcasts seem to change form as Almond reveals their poignant histories. Family members who die untimely deaths make surprising reappearances ("The week after our sister Barbara died she was seen walking hand in hand with Mam on this road toward the field... [They] walked with a fluency which neither had in their lives, for Barbara had been an invalid child and Mam was already badly damaged by arthritis"). Mam re-emerges in one tale as a vibrant young dancer when her son gazes at an old photograph taken during her girlhood. In another, three deceased family members each define the word "death." At the heart of every selection, readers will feel the presence of the budding young writer gracefully, yet often sadly, riding waves of change while trying to make sense out of the world around him. The montage of scenes "merge[s] memory and dream, the real and the imagined, truth and lies," and expresses pearls of wisdom that will remain fixed in readers' imaginations. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 368 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385729464
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 23, 2002)
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2002
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1HH8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,963,493 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
David Almond is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including the marvelous SKELLIG, about things with wings; the mysterious KIT'S WILDERNESS, about things deep underground; and the peculiar HEAVEN'S EYES, about runaway orphans finding family in the presence of a simple, innocent girl. Almond's books are filled with metaphysical darkness and mystery. If anyone has ever wondered where his ideas come from, COUNTING STARS provides clues as it is a collection of short stories based on his boyhood growing up Catholic in northern England.

One in a large family of siblings, Almond experienced several debilitating blows early in life. The loss of a sister haunts the book, along with the untimely death of his father. These events lend a melancholy tone to COUNTING STARS. Readers of his other work will recognize the mines, the spirits of lost loved ones and a village simpleton, who claims to see visions of the Virgin Mary.

COUNTING STARS is darker than Almond's previous books. It is possible that some readers may be upset or confused by stories that have disturbing themes beyond death and displacement. One story,
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Format: Hardcover
You've read his stories about bird-men in the garage, ghosts of prehistoric humans, and strange girls with webbed fingers. Now read a unique, wistful book -- half autobiography, half fictional short stories -- that goes back to David Almond's childhood in a small English mining town.
Almond goes back to Stoneygates and looks at things through the eyes of a child -- the world is a magical, mystical place, where sadness and joy lurk around every corner. He writes of a lonely old woman who keeps her dead baby in a jar, and what happens to the lost baby after her death. He writes of a tender first love with a girl at the church. He writes of a retarded woman who claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary, of the deaths of his parents and sister, a homeless man whose voice was stolen by a fanatical headmistress, of a crisis of faith, of a tormenting bully, of a trip into a fairground "Time Machine," a kindly but strict priest who claims that to count more than a hundred stars is blasphemy, and of angels who show him what he most longs to see.
It's impossible to tell how much of this is true, and how much is imagined. But the elements woven into the story are disarmingly real. Death, life, God, faith, suffering and love are presented in a uniquely surreal manner. His descriptions are starkly evocative; he may describe an angel merely as looking like a woman, but more perfect, and the reader will understand perfectly well what he is saying. Even though it's clear he often does not agree with some of the people in this (the strict priest, for example) Almond never treats them with scorn or mockery unless they are genuinely cruel.
It's a beautiful glimpse of what went into the creation of such modern classics as "Skellig," "Kit's Wilderness" and "Heaven Eyes." A treasure.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe you can remember what it was like to be a child, to come from a large family and to experience long summer days where you explore your neighbourhood, and yourself. Maybe you're still lucky enough to be in your childhood.
Either way, you are guaranteed to recognise from Almond's amazing narrative style, that he certainly is capable to capturing his own childhood experiences in a dazzling and highly spiritual way.
This collection of short stories is yet another high point in Almond's career. Coming from the man who Janni Howker calls "The Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Children's Fiction" this collection of stories will not only entertain you, they may also inspire you to explore your own past.
Once you've read these stories, read Almond's other books. Seriously, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love David Almond's writing, and this book is no exception. This is an autobiographical account, detailing the author's childhood in Felling. The writing is, as usual, both accessible and profound - and there are hidden depths here.

One thing that was odd about this book was the way it revealed all the sources of inspiration used in the other David Almond books I have read. There were hints of Skellig with the talk if angels and shoulder blades being vestigial wings. I could see inspiration for the fire eaters in the story about passing the eleven plus, and in one of the character names. The choirboys in Clay find their inspiration in the author's catholic upbringing. And so it goes on.

This is perhaps not a surprise. Most authors - maybe all the good ones - use real life experiences and locations as inspiration for their works. The only odd thing was that as I read this story, I was so clearly put in mind of all the others.
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