Counting Stars

Counting Stars

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by David Almond

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David Almond’s extraordinary novels have established him as an author of unique insight and skill. These stories encapsulate his endless sense of mystery and wonderment, as they weave a tangible tapestry of growing up in a large, loving family. Here are the kernels of his novels—joy and fear, darkness and light, the
healing power of love and…  See more details below


David Almond’s extraordinary novels have established him as an author of unique insight and skill. These stories encapsulate his endless sense of mystery and wonderment, as they weave a tangible tapestry of growing up in a large, loving family. Here are the kernels of his novels—joy and fear, darkness and light, the
healing power of love and imagination in overcoming the wounds of ignorance and prejudice. These stories merge memory and dream, the real and the imagined, in a collection of exquisite tenderness.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"In this evocative collection of autobiographical vignettes," wrote PW in a starred review, "readers can trace connecting threads between Almond's published works and his childhood experience as a sensitive, pensive English child preoccupied by the mysteries of religion, death and immortality." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This collection of stories is drawn from Almond's youth growing up in a large Roman Catholic family. Although based in reality, these family stories are "truth and memories and dreams and bits made up," as his long-dead father declares in one story. Recurring themes include love, death, religious doubt, and remembrance of lost family. Readers of Almond's work will find that these stories echo his novels. The dying baby in Skellig (Delacorte Press, 1999) recalls the loss of Almond's young sister. His yearning for his dead father is reflected in the orphans of Heaven Eyes (Delacorte Press, 2001/VOYA April 2001), and his hometown is reminiscent of that in Kit's Wilderness (Delacorte Press, 2000/VOYA April 2000). These eighteen short stories are beautifully written. They are interrelated, providing a snapshot of Almond's family in a small English town. They are emotionally powerful, particularly My Mother's Photographs, which offers a look back at Almond's mother in her younger days, before her crippling disability and death. The stories do not occur in order, but instead leap about in time in a seemingly random fashion. The lack of chronology might prove challenging for readers who prefer a straightforward narrative. For those who can view the stories as a nonlinear patchwork, the structure simply adds to the magical tone that is characteristic of his work. The language is beautiful and poetic, yet still accessible for young adults. This memorable book is highly recommended for both teens and adults. 2002, Delacorte, 210p,
— Sherrie Williams
This collection of stories about a young boy and his family in the Northeastern part of England begins with the author saying that all the stories are about him, and so, while the stories are fiction, the reader can feel the truth of them. The members of the narrator's family, living and dead, his neighbors, friends, priests and nuns all play important parts in his childhood. The stories flicker back and forth in time and perhaps the best story in the collection, "The Kitchen," captures the author's idea of time and memory. In that story, all the living characters, his dead sister Barbara, who, although she died in infancy, always remains an important member of the family and his father who died young gather in the family kitchen to eat toast and butter. They talk to each other about life before and after death and what heaven is, reaching deep into the memories of any thoughtful reader. While some stories are sentimental, Almond also tackles the tawdriness and meanness of events of his youth, giving a complete picture of a young boy's childhood and family. The combination of the stories is greater than any one story and while some can stand alone, they are best read as parts of a whole. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Random House, 205p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Nola Theiss
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Eighteen nostalgic vignettes form the patchwork of this memory quilt, Almond's wistful recollection of the people and places he knew during his childhood in a poor mining town in the north of England nearly 50 years ago. Like memory itself, the stories weave in and out of time and place, and while they appear disjointed at first, they quickly and subtly reveal patterns and themes that mold the boy into a man: the abiding love of parents and siblings, even beyond their deaths; first cigarette, first fight, first love; and the ubiquitous, disapproving eye of the Catholic Church and the teenage temptation to spit in it. Lilting dialect and homespun humor imbue Almond's narrative with a beauty and simplicity that transcend the poverty and squalor of the diverse settings, which range from graveyards to fun fairs, schoolrooms to empty lots. The chronological and cultural gap that separates Almond's youth from that of modern children is so palpable in these stories that many readers will feel overwhelmed and perhaps even discouraged. Tenacious ones, however, will be rewarded with a captivating portrait of Almond the child, whose life experiences helped produce Almond the writer and his eloquent body of literature.-William McLoughlin, Brookside School, Worthington, OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In 18 short stories, none previously published here, the author of Heaven Eyes (2001) surveys a child's world in which love and pain intertwine. The tales are partly autobiographical-or, as he puts it: "They merge memory and dream, the real and the imagined, truth and lies." After discovering "The Middle of the World" within the circle of his loving family, the young narrator steps out to encounter both abused children ("Loosa Fine"), and damaged elders like Miss Golightly, whose whole history is encompassed by a fetus in a jar and old photos of a uniformed beau. He enjoys concurrent flings with a beautiful visitor and faddish mysticism; travels in a carnival "Time Machine," discovers supposedly imaginary "Jonadab" on a map, and reports visions of his buried sister among flocks of angels. Almond writes with haunting spareness of these experiences, and also of his father's death, and his mother's increasing infirmity-leaving readers to figure out for themselves why people laugh or weep at certain moments, to think about the complex connections between the living and the dead, and to wrestle with troubling questions of morality or religious faith. Some of his experiences are shocking, some uplifting, obliquely amusing, even magical; this is not light or easy reading, but few who tackle it will come away unmoved. (Short stories. YA)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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Age Range:
12 Years

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