Kit's Wilderness

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Overview

The Watson family moves to Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to care for Kit???s recently widowed grandfather. When Kit meets John Askew, another boy whose family had both worked and died in the mines, Askew invites Kit to join him in playing a game called Death. Kit???s association with Askew takes him into the mines where the boys look to find the childhood ghosts of their long-gone ancestors.

Thirteen-year-old Kit goes to live with his grandfather in the ...

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Overview

The Watson family moves to Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to care for Kit’s recently widowed grandfather. When Kit meets John Askew, another boy whose family had both worked and died in the mines, Askew invites Kit to join him in playing a game called Death. Kit’s association with Askew takes him into the mines where the boys look to find the childhood ghosts of their long-gone ancestors.

Thirteen-year-old Kit goes to live with his grandfather in the decaying coal mining town of Stoneygate, England, and finds both the old man and the town haunted by ghosts of the past.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 2001 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature was awarded to David Almond for his powerful tale of fates, friendship, and family: Kit's Wilderness. When Almond's first book, Skellig, was named a Printz Honor Book for 2000, it marked him as a talent worth watching. Now Almond proves himself once again with a hauntingly beautiful story about lost dreams, undying hope, and the immutable interconnectedness of life.

When 13-year-old Christopher "Kit" Watson and his family pack up and move to the onetime coal-mining town of Stoneygate, it is to care for recently widowed Grandpa Watson. The move is a stressful one for Kit, who struggles to fit in with a new crowd of kids in this depressed, dying town. Plus, Grandpa isn't doing well; his health is deteriorating, and his mind seems prone to odd flights of fancy. Kit finds himself drawn toward two new friends: Alison Keenan, a flashy, bright young gal who is full of energy and life, and John Askew, a hulking, moody fellow who likes to play a game called Death. When Kit is picked as the next to "die" and left alone in a dark, abandoned mine shaft, he has an otherworldly experience that piques his curiosity about the mine's history and the past connections between his family and the Askews.

Kit discovers that generation after generation of his own family eked out an existence in the town's treacherous mines, including a 13-year-old boy named Christopher Watson, who died in the worst mine disaster on record. Another 13-year-old victim from that long-ago tragedy also bore a familiar name: John Askew. These ghosts from the past seem tied to their modern-day namesakes, connected by a thread of fate that stretches across generations. And suddenly Grandpa's crazy musings don't seem so crazy anymore. When John faces a crisis that threatens both his life and his family, the only person who knows how to help him is Kit. But it involves great risk, and Kit must choose between his own safety and that of his friend, a decision that will ultimately save and redeem them both.

Almond's prose has a mesmerizing lyrical quality that is deceptive in its simplicity. His underlying theme of magic -- both ordinary and profound -- and his blend of mystery and mysticism will likely appeal to young audiences who like their stories seasoned with powerful imagery and occasional ambiguity. Kit's Wilderness is a little spooky, a lot of fun, and utterly unforgettable.

--Beth Amos

Publishers Weekly
Almond offers another tantalizing blend of human drama, surrealism; and allegory...he takes readers on a thrilling and spine-tingling ride.
BookList
Almond has set an enormous task for himself. But he succeeds beautifully, knitting dark and light together and suffusing the multilayered plot with an otherworldly glow.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Revisiting many of the themes from Skellig, Almond offers another tantalizing blend of human drama, surrealism and allegory. He opens the novel with a triumphant scene, in which Kit Watson, the 13-year-old narrator, and his classmates, John Askew and Allie Keenan reemerge from "ancient darkness into a shining valley," as if to reassure readers throughout the course of the cryptic tale that the game of "Death," so central to the book, is indeed just a game. Nevertheless, he takes readers on a thrilling and spine-tingling ride. When Kit moves with his mother and father to the mining town of Stoneygate to keep company with his newly widowed grandfather, he feels drawn to John Askew who, like Kit, comes from a long line of coal miners. Askew presses Kit to take part in a game of "Death," for which the participants spin a knife to determine whose turn it is to "die." The chosen one then remains alone in the darkness of Askew's den, to join spirits with boys killed in a coal mine accident in 1821. Some regular players consider the game to be make-believe, but Kit senses something far more profound and dangerous, and the connection he forges with the ancient past also circuitously seals a deeper bond with Askew. Allie acts as a bridge between the two worlds, much as Mina was for Michael in Skellig. The ability that Askew, Kit and his grandpa possess to pass between two seductive worlds, here and beyond, in many ways expands on the landscape Almond created in Skellig. The intricacy and complexity of the book's darker themes make it a more challenging read than his previous novel for children, but the structure is as awe-inspiring as the ancient mining tunnels that run beneath Stoneygate. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-This haunting, lyrical novel by David Almond (Delacorte, 2000) will appeal to teachers because of the beauty of its language and its manipulation of themes. The supernatural elements and gripping story will engage students. Shakespearean actor Charles Keating's narration is especially welcome because his good oral interpretation helps clarify Almond's Briticisms. The story deals with the eerie influence of the past, from the recently defunct mining industry in Kit's ancestral hometown, to the beginning of humankind. It also focuses on the necessity of the arts, particularly the art of storytelling, to the emotional well-being and even survival of those sensitive to the rhythms of the world and the ripples of time. The hook, both for Kit and for the readers, is the game called Death played in an abandoned mine shaft by a group of misfits at Kit's new school. He is invited to join in by John Askew, a brooding social outcast and talented artist. John, who represents the dark side, is also just a boy from a dysfunctional family who desperately needs Kit's help. This audiobook is a must have, even for those libraries where recordings are not usually a priority.-Diana Dickerson, White Pigeon Community Schools, MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Almond . . . creates a heartbreakingly real world fused with magical realism . . . suffusing the multilayered plot with an otherworldly glow." — Booklist, Starred

"Almond offers another tantalizing blend of human drama, surrealism and allegory." — Publishers Weekly, Starred

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385326650
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 470L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID ALMOND grew up in a large family in northeastern England and says, "The place and the people have given me many of my stories." His first novel for children, Skellig, was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book and appeared on many best book of the year lists. His second novel, Kit's Wilderness, won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

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Read an Excerpt

1

In Stoneygate there was a wilderness. It was an empty space between the houses and the river, where the ancient pit, the mine, had been. That's where we played Askew's game, the game called Death. We used to gather at the school's gates after the bell had rung. We stood there whispering and giggling. After five minutes, Bobby Carr told us it was time and he led us through the wilderness to Askew's den, a deep hole dug into the earth with old doors slung across it as an entrance and a roof. The place was hidden from the school and from the houses of Stoneygate by the slope and by the tall grasses growing around it. The wild dog Jax waited for us there. When Jax began to growl, Askew drew one of the doors aside. He looked out at us, checked the faces, called us down.

We stumbled one by one down the crumbling steps. We crouched against the walls. The floor was hard-packed clay. Candles burned in niches in the walls. There was a heap of bones in a corner. Askew told us they were human bones, discovered when he'd dug this place. There was a blackened ditch where a fire burned in winter. The den was lined with dried mud. Askew had carved pictures of us all, of animals, of the dogs and cats we owned, of the wild dog Jax, of imagined monsters and demons, of the gates of Heaven and the snapping jaws of Hell. He wrote into the walls the names of all of us who'd died in there. My friend Allie Keenan sat across the den from me. The blankness in her eyes said: You're on your own down here.

Askew wore black jeans, black sneakers, a black T-shirt with "Megadeth" in white across it. He lit a cigarette and passed it round the ring. He passed around a jug of water that hesaid was special water, collected from a spring that had its source in the blocked-up tunnels of the ancient coal mine far below. He crouched at the center, sharpening his sheath knife on a stone. His dark hair tumbled across his eyes, his pale face flickered in the candlelight.

"You have come into this ancient place to play the game called Death," he whispered.

He laid the knife at the center on a square of glass. He eyed us all. We chewed our lips, held our breath, our hearts thudded. Sometimes a squeak of fear from someone, sometimes a stifled snigger.

"Whose turn is it to die?" he whispered.

He spun the knife.

We chanted, "Death Death Death Death . . ."

And then the knife stopped, pointing at the player.

The player had to reach out, to take Askew's hand. Askew drew him from the fringes to the center.

"There will be a death this day," said Askew.

The player had to kneel before Askew, then crouch on all fours. He had to breathe deeply and slowly, then quickly and more quickly still. He had to lift his head and stare into Askew's eyes. Askew held the knife before his face.

"Do you abandon life?" said Askew.

"I abandon life."

"Do you truly wish to die?"

"I truly wish to die."

Askew held his shoulder. He whispered gently into his ear, then with his thumb and index finger he closed the player's eyes and said, "This is Death."

And the player fell to the floor, dead still, while the rest of us gathered in a ring around him.

"Rest in peace," said Askew.

"Rest in peace," said all of us.

Then Askew slid the door aside and we climbed out into the light. Askew came out last. He slid the door back into place, leaving the dead one in the dark.

We lay together in the long grass, in the sunlight, by the shining river.

Askew crouched apart from us, smoking a cigarette, hunched over, sunk in his gloom.

We waited for the dead one to come back.

Sometimes the dead came quickly back to us. Sometimes it took an age, and on those days our whispering and sniggering came to an end. We glanced nervously at each other, chewed our nails. As time went on, the more nervous ones lifted their schoolbags, glanced fearfully at Askew, set off singly or in pairs toward home. Sometimes we whispered of sliding the door back in order to check on our friend down there, but Askew, without turning to us, would snap,

"No. Death has its own time. Wake him now and all he'll know forever after is a waking death."

So we waited, in silence and dread. In the end, everyone came back. We saw at last the white fingers gripping the door from below. The door slid back. The player scrambled out. He blinked in the light, stared at us. He grinned sheepishly, or stared in amazement, as if emerged from an astounding dream.

Askew didn't move.

"Resurrection, eh?" he murmured. He laughed dryly to himself.

We gathered around the dead one.

"What was it like?" we whispered. "What was it like?"

We left Askew hunched there by the river, strolled back together through the wilderness with the dead one in our midst.


From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

Copyright 2001 by David Almond
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Introduction

Written in haunting prose and lyrical language, Kit's Wilderness explores the bonds of family from one generation to the next, and how, from the depths of darkness, meaning and beauty can be revealed.

The questions that follow are intended to guide readers as they begin to analyze the larger emotional, sociological, and literary elements of this
extraordinary novel.
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Foreword

1. When Kit and his friends play the game they call "Death," they claim they can see the ghosts of children killed in the mine. Are the ghosts that Kit and his friends see real?

2. What do you think makes John Askew, Kit, and Kit's grandfather able to see ghosts?

3. David Almond calls this book Kit's Wilderness. Why? What is Kit's "wilderness"

4. While studying the Ice Age in school, Kit and his classmates are asked to write a story about a young caveman called Lak. How is Kit's own life similar to the story he writes about Lak? How is it different?

5. What is "the pit" What do you think it represents?

6. The author sets the story in wintertime. How do the physical landscape and season reflect the characters' emotional landscapes and states of mind?

7. Despite his fading memory, Kit's grandfather is always able to recognize Allie. Why? What might she represent for him? What might she represent in the story?

8. When Kit's grandfather gives him treasures from the mine, fossils from the ancient past, Kit slips the ammonite into his pocket and tells himself, "I'd keep it with me always now. A treasure from my grandfather. A gift from the deep, dark past." What other "gifts" does his grandfather bestow upon Kit?

9. John Askew is perceived as a no-good troublemaker by the townspeople. Is he really as bad as everyone thinks he is? In what ways is he darker? In what ways is he lighter?

10. What is the role of storytelling in Kit's Wilderness? How is storytelling used throughout the novel and in what different ways?

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Reading Group Guide

1. When Kit and his friends play the game they call "Death, " they claim they can see the ghosts of children killed in the mine. Are the ghosts that Kit and his friends see real?

2. What do you think makes John Askew, Kit, and Kit's grandfather able to see ghosts?

3. David Almond calls this book Kit's Wilderness. Why? What is Kit's "wilderness"?

4. While studying the Ice Age in school, Kit and his classmates are asked to write a story about a young caveman called Lak. How is Kit's own life similar to the story he writes about Lak? How is it different?

5. What is "the pit"? What do you think it represents?

6. The author sets the story in wintertime. How do the physical landscape and season reflect the characters' emotional landscapes and states of mind?

7. Despite his fading memory, Kit's grandfather is always able to recognize Allie. Why? What might she represent for him? What might she represent in the story?

8. When Kit's grandfather gives him treasures from the mine, fossils from the ancient past, Kit slips the ammonite into his pocket and tells himself, "I'd keep it with me always now. A treasure from my grandfather. A gift from the deep, dark past." What other "gifts" does his grandfather bestow upon Kit?

9. John Askew is perceived as a no-good troublemaker by the townspeople. Is he really as bad as everyone thinks he is? In what ways is he darker? In what ways is he lighter?

10. What is the role of storytelling in Kit's Wilderness? How is storytelling used throughout the novel and in what different ways?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 63 )
Rating Distribution

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(48)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 63 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    Sunstar

    She started to play fight with Nebulakit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    Almondkit has been adopted!

    From~ Almondkit

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Vortexkits bio

    Name vortexkit


    age2moons


    Family moonstar



    History abandond



    Pelt fire red



    Apearance a vortex was tthere when born



    Crush none




    Mate of course not





    Kits of course not





    Anything else~vortexkit





    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Wavekit

    &#9830 Name: Wavekit
    <br>
    &#9830 Age: 2 Moons
    <br>
    &#9830 Looks: Pale Gray Tabby, Blue Eyes
    <br>
    &#9830 Persona: Fiesty, Warmhearted, Fun Loving

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Tearkit bio

    Name ^. Age 4 moons personality: meet him appearace looks similar to jayfeather but his eyes change color sometimes hazel sometimes green (my eyes change color in real life which is why) and his right front paw is black. History/family ...... other .....

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Soulkit

    Soulkit is a 3 moon she-kit. She is golden yellow, though she has the ability to change colors. Her eyes change colors depending on moon. Her soft, feathery wing reflect light prismaticly. Soulkit has many powers, and thus is afraid she won't be adopted because so many Clans want to be realistic. As a result, she is very quiet and shy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Nebulakit

    A white kit with white falcon wings yhat have black slightly curved horizantal bars on her primary feathers. Dark blue eyes and wispy tail.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Jay and Rose

    Name(self given): Jay Age: 3 moons Description: a grey blue she cat with blind pale green eyes. Name(self given): Rose Age: 3 moons Description: a grey she cat with a streak of black that looks like a rose Other: very protective of her sister will not leave her.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    To all kits

    You should join Skyclan. They are at frg all results.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Nightkit

    My bio———— name /Nightkit age/3 moons gender/she-cat looks/pitch black with unusual sky blue eyes in need of mother and father very badly was abandoned by Sandclan when I was born

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    To nightkit and others

    *Hazatar walks in to see the lonely kits* i have a new clan you can join at rand result 1 and 2 i and everyone else to join will give you everything you need

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Cloverkit to someone from emberclan

    A white she with brown patches is 1moon old left in a patch of clover after mom died. Wants to join emberclan (the only clan shes ever heard of)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    Brokenkit

    Name is Brokenkit. Appearance is a pitch black she kit with a bright red birthmark on her chest in the shape of a broken heart. Personality is serious. She hardly laughs.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    To the leaders who want all the kits to join their clan.

    You know, you might want to meet the kits first...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    Frostkit

    Hides in a corner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    I want to adopt a kit

    Name: Chesterstar
    Age: 20 moons
    Description: Jet black tom, very gentle leader of racoon clan
    To respond to me put: kits to chesterstar

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Echo's BIO

    Name: Echo • Looks- a tawny colored she cat, with bright blue eyes. • Personality- she is sweet, smart, loving, and feircley protective of family. • History- She rps at Ember Clan {Running River res. 3} She has no mate, but is totally cool with being a single mom. •

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    Dropkit to Lavender

    I have been adopted by Echo (who is also hoping to adopt the injured kit once healed) and have gone to live with EmberClan (starts at running river res 1). It is very nice here, and I have already made two friends (besides Echo): Moonkit (soon to be Moonpaw), and Goldenpaw. EmberClan is very nice, and their leader, Lilystar, seems kind and fair. A little bit after I came to the shelter, I started an animal shelter (oxy res 1-10) being inspired by you; there have already been two animals placed with their new homes! Whenever I advertise for it, I always mention the kit shelter as well. Thank you for taking me in and finding a new mother for qme. ~Dropkit of EmberClan, FluffMania of the Animal Shelter

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Newmoon

    A black she-cat with ruffled fur walked in with wide kind eyes. She already has 2 kits but she wishes to have one more. She wants a kit that will behave, but have fun as well. Her clan is at winged dreams all results but she is in the nursery at winged dreams result 5. "Hello, i would like to adopt a kit."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2014

    Lavender's Bio ♥ (brace yourself; it's kinda long...)

    Name: Lavender &star
    Age: 14 moons &star
    Personality: Happy, loving, and caring &star
    Description: light tan she-cat with lavender eyes &star
    History: used to be in SunClan before it died out. Has been accused of name stealing(She liked the name "Lavenderspark" when she joined SunClan but another cat had the same name and accused her of name stealing) &star
    Other Rps: Lavenderpaw at "running river"
    Old rps: Sunshine at "cat" Streaksky at "white hills"(SwiftClan/StarClan can't remeber StarClan location o.O) Lavender at "esyay" Sparklestar at "snow" (or "cat"?.?) Flame/Lionkit at "baobab" and Softkit at "sumner" or "esyay"(these are all rps that l'm either locked out of or have just died out. Sorry l forget a lot of them -.-) &star
    Signature: -Lav &#9829 with 4 stars


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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