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Skellig Paperback – September 12, 2000
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"I thought he was dead. He was sitting with his legs stretched out and his head tipped back against the wall. He was covered with dust and webs like everything else and his face was thin and pale. Dead bluebottles were scattered on his hair and shoulders. I shined the flashlight on his white face and his black suit."
This is Michael's introduction to Skellig, the man-owl-angel who lies motionless behind the tea chests in the abandoned garage in back of the boy's dilapidated new house. As disturbing as this discovery is, it is the least of Michael's worries. The new house is a mess, his parents are distracted, and his brand-new baby sister is seriously ill. Still, he can't get this mysterious creature out of his mind--even as he wonders if he has really seen him at all. What unfolds is a powerful, cosmic, dreamlike tale reminiscent of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. British novelist David Almond works magic as he examines the large issues of death, life, friendship, love, and the breathtaking connections between all things.
Amidst the intensity and anxiety of his world, Michael is a normal kid. He goes to school, plays soccer, and has friends with nicknames like Leakey and Coot. It's at home where his life becomes extraordinary, with the help of Skellig and Mina, the quirky, strong-willed girl next door with "the kind of eyes you think can see right through you." Mina and her mother's motto is William Blake's "How can a bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing?" This question carries us through the book, as we see Michael's baby sister trapped in a hospital incubator; as we see the exquisite, winged Skellig crumpled in the garage; as we meet Mina's precious blackbird chicks and the tawny owls in her secret attic; and as we finally see a braver, bolder Michael spread his wings and fly. Skellig was the Whitbread Award's 1998 Children's Book of the Year, and this haunting novel is sure to resonate with readers young and old. (Ages 10 and older) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
British author Almond confidently narrates this recording of his first novel for young people. Michael and his family have just moved to a new home, which proves more dramatic than any of them had imagined. The house is a true fixer-upper, and Michael's new baby sister, born prematurely, is seriously ill. While his parents are consumed with worry about the baby, Michael is left alone with his own fears. But when he explores the house's crumbling garage, he discovers a frail creature with wings who becomes a most magical friend. It's hard to say whether the creature, which eventually introduces itself as Skellig, is a man, an angel or a ghost. As Michael and his new neighbor Mina spend time with Skellig, they learn about the transforming power of caring and love as they tend to Skellig's infirmities and cater to his fondness for Chinese takeout. Part mystery, part fantasy, Almond's story is made all the more memorable by his easygoing delivery and distinctive accent. Ages 8-up. (Apr.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Almond deftly refrains from answering every question (e.g., the exact nature of Skellig) or tediously driving home every symbolism, leaving room for delightful contemplation.
Superb writing throughout. The last paragraph of Chapter Two, in all it's starkness, is absolutely heart-wrenching. The initial discovery of Skellig was heart-pounding, and the closing chapters heart-lifting. I won't soon forget "27 and 53"!
Themes of forgiveness, family love and loyalty, and non-judgmental acceptance of those who don't fit into society's mold.
A young boy's baby sister could be dying, the family moves into a new home where the boy and his new friend discover love and compassion and the power of believing in something.
I would recommend this book to young adults and under, although I am almost fifty and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
discover the beauty around them, the importance of
that should be read by 10 to 12 year olds to teach them about compassion.
"Skellig" is most definitely like that. Every character, every line, every nuance are part of a totality, a symphony, if you will, of great depth, of transcendent mysticism. The word "skellig" is an Irish word which means rock and is the name of one of the most famous monasteries in the world: Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry, Ireland. It was renowned in the medieval period because of its rugged, stormy living conditions and the endurance of its monks.
The poetry, the mysticism of William Blake are part of the story. Looking for angels. Feeling shoulder blades for wings. Bird bones. Evolution. A very sick baby that may or may not live. The being who lives in a sustained state behind the tea chests and other junk in the garage, who may or may not be an angel. Or a bird.
Michael and his parents and their very sick baby move into a house that needs much work. In exploring, Michael finds the being whose name is Skellig. He eats bugs and small animals and Chinese take-out. He is beautiful. Michael meets a girl, a year younger, who is home-schooled and reads Blake and draws birds. Her name is Mina (Wilhemina=William). She teaches Michael how to listen deeply to the sounds of baby birds in their nests. He teaches her how to blow owl sounds using his hands. Together they form a wondrous bond with Skellig.
If I have conveyed just a hint of the wonder and magic of this incredible novel, then I have succeeded. What David Almond recreated in this *Honor novel is that openness of our child-like state to things beyond the mundane, the earth-bound, to magic and mysticism and otherworldliness where angels may leap to earth and its bindedness to tend to matters.
*Note: "Skellig" was named an honor book by the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in 2000, when Monster) by Walter Dean Meyers won the medal.