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Cathy HainerSkellig is the first mainstream Gothic novel for kids to deal unblinkingly with the genre's big time themes, including the fragility of life and redemptive power of love.
— USA Today
"British novelist Almond makes a triumphant debut in the field of children’s literature with prose that is at once eerie, magical, and poignant." — Publishers Weekly, Starred
I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon. It was the day after we moved into Falconer Road. The winter was ending. Mum had said we'd be moving just in time for the spring. Nobody else was there. Just me. The others were inside the house with Dr. Death, worrying about the baby.
He was lying there in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he'd been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn't have been more wrong. I'd soon begin to see the truth about him, that there'd never been another creature like him in the world.
We called it the garage because that's what the real estate agent, Mr. Stone, called it. It was more like a demolition site or a rubbish dump or like one of those ancient warehouses they keep pulling down at the wharf. Stone led us down the garden, tugged the door open, and shined his little flashlight into the gloom. We shoved our heads in at the doorway with him.
"You have to see it with your mind's eye," he said. "See it cleaned, with new doors and the roof repaired. See it as a wonderful two-car garage."
He looked at me with a stupid grin on his face.
"Or something for you, lad-a hideaway for you and your pals. What about that, eh?"
I looked away. I didn't want anything to do with him. All the way round the house it had been the same. Just see it in your mind's eye. Just imagine what could be done. All the way round I kept thinking of the old man, Ernie Myers, that had lived here on his own for years. He'd been dead nearly a week before they found him under the table in the kitchen. That's what I saw when Stonetold us about seeing with the mind's eye. He even said it when we got to the dining room and there was an old cracked toilet sitting there in the comer behind a plywood screen. I just wanted him to shut up, but he whispered that toward the end Ernie couldn't manage the stairs. His bed was brought in here and a toilet was put in so everything was easy for him. Stone looked at me like he didn't think I should know about such things. I wanted to get out, to get back to our old house again, but Mum and Dad took it all in. They went on like it was going to be some big adventure. They bought the house. They started cleaning it and scrubbing it and painting it. Then the baby came too early. And here we were.
I NEARLY GOT INTO THE GARAGE that Sunday morning. I took my own flashlight and shined it in. The outside doors to the back lane must have fallen off years ago and there were dozens of massive planks nailed across the entrance. The timbers holding the roof were rotten and the roof was sagging in. The bits of the floor you could see between the rubbish were full of cracks and holes. The people that took the rubbish out of the house were supposed to take it out of the garage as well, but they took one look at the place and said they wouldn't go in it even for extra money. There were old chests of drawers and broken washbasins and bags of cement, ancient doors leaning against the walls, deck chairs with the cloth seats rotted away. Great rolls of rope and cable hung from nails. Heaps of water pipes and great boxes of rusty nails were scattered on the floor. Everything was covered in dust and spiders' webs. There was mortar that had fallen from the walls. 'There was a little window in one of the walls but it was filthy and there were rolls of cracked linoleum standing in front of it. The place stank of rot and dust. Even the bricks were crumbling like they couldn't bear the weight anymore. It was like the whole thing was sick of itself and would collapse in a heap and have to get bulldozed away.
I heard something scratching in one of the corners, and something scuttling about; then it all stopped and it was just dead quiet in there.
I stood daring myself to go in.
I was just going to slip inside when I heard Mum shouting at me
"Michael! What you doing?"
She was at the back door.
"Didn't we tell you to wait till we're sure it's
I stepped back and looked at her.
"Well, didn't we?" she shouted.
"Yes," I said.
"So keep out! All right?"
I shoved the door and it lurched half shut on its
"All right?" she yelled.
',All right,” said. "Yes. All right. All right."
"Do you not think we've got more to worry about than stupid you getting crushed in a stupid garage?
"You just keep out, then! Right?"
"Right. Right, right, right.
Then I went back into the wilderness we called garden and she went back to the stupid baby.
1. Michael is very unhappy at the beginning of the novel. Discuss how Michael's life changes after he discovers Skellig and meets Mina. Think about ways that you deal with fear and loneliness. How can you help a friend who appears unhappy?
2. Almond never gives the reader a specific description of Skellig. Based on the glimpses of Skellig found throughout the novel, what is your impression of Skellig? How might Michael describe Skellig at the end of the novel?
3. Michael brushes his hands against Skellig's back and detects what appear to be wings. When he asks his mother about shoulder blades, she answers, "They say that shoulder blades are where your wings were when you were an angel . . . where your wings will grow again one day." What does this statement reveal about Skellig?
4. When Michael questions why Skellig eats living things and makes pellets like an owl, Mina answers, "We can't know. Sometimes we just have to accept that there are things we can't know." Why is this an important moment in the novel?
5. When Michael's soccer teammates discover his friendship with Mina, they begin teasing him. How does this affect Michael's relationship with them? Why do you think they make fun of Mina? How does she handle the teasing? How would you handle the situation if your classmates made fun of a special friend?
6. Discuss Michael's relationship with his mother and father. How does the baby's illness put a strain on these relationships? How is Michael's relationship with his parents different from Mina's relationship with her mother?
7. At the same time that his sister is undergoing heart surgery, Michael discovers that Skellig is gone. Mina calmsMichael by quoting William Blake: "[Blake] said the soul was able to leap out of the body for a while and then leap back again. He said it could be caused by great fear or enormous pain. Sometimes it was because of too much joy. It was possible to be overwhelmed by the presence of so much beauty in the world." Why do you think Mina quoted this passage to Michael? How are fear and pain related? How are joy and beauty related? How does Skellig represent all these qualities?
8. What does the nurse mean when she describes Michael's baby sister as having a "heart of fire"? Why does Michael want to name the baby Persephone? Why is Joy an appropriate name for her? What other names might symbolize her journey and her place in the world?
9. Skellig returns for one last visit with Michael and Mina. What do you think is Skellig's purpose for entering Michael's life? How does he touch other lives? Do you think he'll ever return?
Posted May 1, 2011
This book is one of my favorites! It has a good puller and a great setting. This book is amazing! I recommend it to children and teenagers
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Posted January 24, 2012
This book was amazing! It was very edge of your seat and perfect for all ages. I would definatly reccomend this book. The plot is very interesting and descriptive.....READ THIS BOOK!!!!!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 1, 2005
this was about the best book i have ever read! The realistic beginning of the book and then in the middle you find out a fantasy part of it! It was very interesting and I think everyone should read it!
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Posted November 9, 2013
Posted June 12, 2007
David Almond¿s book Skellig was pretty well written. This book has a especially interesting theme of friendship, angels, and family tragedies. This book was extraordinarily fictional because it talks a lot about angels. For example every time he goes into his garage he sees an old ghost like creature but he can¿t tell what it is. I thought that it was interesting how it was set in England and they call soccer football, and Mom ¿Mum.¿ In this book the one of the main characters Michael has just moved into a new neighborhood. Plus his sister was born prematurely and has been in the hospital for almost her whole live. Michael¿s mother has to stay at the hospital with the baby so, it¿s just Michael and his dad in the new house. Michael is a very athletic kid and loves sports. His next door neighbor¿s name is Mina and she is home schooled. She is extremely interested in birds and whenever you can¿t find her you can almost guarantee that she is in a tree drawing a bird. Then one day Mina shows a Michael a house that was given to her by her grandfather when he passed away. she eventually plans to fix up the house and rent it out, but in the meantime she lets owls stay up in the attic and live. When Michael sees all of the owls he is overwhelmed and scarred at the same time because they will attack if you get to close to their eggs. Since that Mina showed him her house 'not her Mother¿s house her house' he wanted to show Mina something cool, so he decided to show her the ghost like creature to her. The other reason he wanted to show her the creature was because he wanted to she if it was real. When they went to see the creature she did see it two. Then they both became interested in it. Then one day Michael's father decides to fix up the old garage. Michael tells Mina and she said that she would put the creature in her house with the owls. Then the next night Mina and Michael take the creature to her house. When they get there they smother him with questions. One question they asked is ¿What are you?¿ another is ¿What is your name?¿. He did not answer what he was but he did say to call him Skellig. Then they figure out what Skellig is and what he is meant to do. Once that they help out Skellig, he helps out Michael¿s sister and him and Mina stay friends forever. This book was extremely interesting because of all the weird and mysterious things that happen. For example they find creatures in weird places and he won¿t tell them anything about him. This book effected the way I look at premature babies because of what happened to Michael¿s sister. I just thought that it was horrible that they didn¿t think she would make it or that she had to stay in the hospital her whole baby years. That is how I feel about Skellig. This is why I like this book. I also recommend this book to almost any boy or girl.
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Posted May 14, 2014
i read this book when i was younger and it was verry good good story good characters and eventually lost the book at some point so i got for the nook and im glad i did id recommend this book for anyone to readWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 19, 2014
Posted July 17, 2013
This book was amazing ! My 11 year old daughter read it and loved it. She hates reading :( and i connot get her to read anything ! She saw this book at her friends house and her friend talked her into reading it ! My daughter was very annoyed that she was being forced to read and after she read it thanked her friend for forcing her. All that i am trying to say here is that this book is great for all ages and kids should be encouraged to read more ! READ THIS BOOK!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2013
Posted April 26, 2013
I have taught elementary and middle school for about five years. I think of children's literature as having two major components, story and writing.
The writing here is very good, as is the writing. This isn't a great tale but this is a delightful romp and more enjoyable with every page.
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Posted April 24, 2013
Soon after Michael's family moves to a new home, his sister is born prematurely. While his parents are ferrying the newborn back and forth to the hospital, Michael deals with his stress by exploring their dilapidated garage. There, he finds a strange owl-like man. As Michael and the girl-next-door nurse the winged man back to health, he learns a lesson about love. This was a sweet little book. It was quite short, so there wasn't a lot of plot, but the characters and premise was quite adorable. This book would be appropriate for 7-9 year olds who enjoy reading magical realism.
Almond did a fantastic job of narrating his own book. He has an engaging reading voice and had all the rhythms and intonations flowing well.
Posted April 11, 2013
For some reason, i was reluctant to read this book, however i found it stunning. As a reader who nearly never cries, this book truely struck me in its ingenuity and heart felt message. This is an excellent read for all ages.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2013
This lovely, pitch-perfect book proves that middle grade fiction can be spare and simple, yet still shine.
Young Michael tries to cope with his infant sister's life threatening illness while living an ordinary boy's life. He plays soccer, visits with pals from school, and helps his father fixing up their new home and garden. Michael discovers a mysterious stranger in the dilapidated shed with odd manners. Is he a monster, angel, or something else?
Michael befriends Mina, who is home schooled and has a penchant for William Blake's poetry and an obsession with flying creatures. They embark upon a quiet journey and a moving friendship. Together, they attempt to piece together the enigma of the man in the shed. The beauty of this quiet story lies in the friendship between Mina and Michael, and the author's insistence on leaving some things unanswered.
I wish more books for this age group were so lyrical and calm. David Almond's book is a master work in restraint. I particularly like Michael's interactions with Mina and her mother. This friendship seems so true, and although I wish I could know more of these characters, the story is a perfect length and I was so satisfied with the resolution.
This is a Printz Honor selection. Almond addresses weighty issues like life, death, and the inevitable unknowable in between on a level that is just right for this age group. I am so impressed with Almond's grasp of the complexities of Michael and Mina's world. He truly understands that although the world of a child is, on some level, simple-they are far from simplistic creatures. Instead, children have a rich inner emotional life and high levels of creativity, sensitivity, and wonder inside them. This book shows such respect for the characters and audience, and I would highly recommend this to any middle grade reader.
Posted December 27, 2012
Posted October 2, 2012
Posted July 22, 2012
Skellig was definitely a book worth reading. Even the opening sentence pulled me into the book immediately. The characters are strong, vivid, and interesting, especially Mina, Michael's friend, and of course Skellig, the creature Michael finds in his garage. Michael's newborn sister being so sick is also something that pulls you into the book because you want to find out what happens to her. I liked this book because of the ongoing mystery of the creature Skellig and who/what he is and what role he plays in Michael's life. I also liked that the author never really explained what Skellig was because then the mystery was free to linger on after you finished the book. This book was a combination of weird and hauntingly beautiful at the same time. In my opinion, that's one of the best combinations. Hats off to David Almond!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 28, 2012
Posted December 29, 2011
Posted September 1, 2011
Skellig, written by David Almond is about a boy named Michael and his family that move to a new house that is not in good condition. His parents and he are anxious about his new baby sister named Joy who was born premature and has a chance that she might not live since she has a dysfunctional heart. Michael ends up going into the garage when he finds out there is a strange man and Michael thinks he might be homeless or a junkie. Michael ends up meeting a girl named Mina how is home schooled and she takes care of baby birds that live in her garden and she ends up teaching Michael their tiny sounds. The two of them move the man out of the garage because it was going to be demolished when they discover that the man has wings are old and dried and all folded. Michael asks the man about his arthritis and if there is a cure for it. Skellig (the man), Michael and Mina all share a mystical experience which they all fly and they are able to see ghostly wings sprouting from each other's shoulders I thought the book was good just that in some chapters it didn't really explain lots of things and when something interesting would happen the book would say much and it would just change to something new. The things that I like about the book were that it would get interesting and it would make me want to read it more and more. I also liked the author David Almond used all the five senses really good in the story. I enjoyed this book a lot because it would make me think about what was going to happen and I wouldn't want to put the book down. I give this book a 4/5 because it would interest me but it wouldn't explain a lot of the things that would happen in the story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2007
Skellig is a beautifully written fictional book by David Almond. This is one out of many books he has written. The major topics throughout the entire book are friendship, death, and moving. The main situation in this book is that Michael finds Skellig in his grarage and doesn't know what to do with 'it' or who or what 'it' is. Michael is an average boy who is good at futball/soccer. His family just moved into a new house and his baby sister is terribly ill. Michael loves going into the old garage, that could collapse at any time, and that's where he finds Skellig. He tries to do as much as he can for Skellig, like getting him some asprin and 27 and 53, which is the numbers of the Chinese food that he wants from the menu of the Chinese restraunt on the corner. Then, Michael meets the girl next door, Mina, who is very strange. Mina is homeschooled and thinks that you don't learn anything at school. They become friends quickly. When Michael's friends, Leaky and Coot, come to play with him they start making fun of Mina. She says something meaner to Coot and gets all mad at him. When they leave, Mina get really mad at Michael because he tries to defend Coot and Leaky and says that he's just like them. Later, Mina says she's sorry and shows Michael a special place where her grandfather used to live. Michael loves the place and is happy until he finds out that his sister isn't getting better. I thought the book was enjoyable and wonderfully written. It was a joy to read this book! Once I started reading the book I didn't want to stop because everyone page is full of suspense and action. The plot was awesome! It was completely original I could have probably never thought of something like that for a story! I also like how David Almond didn't tell us what Skelling was and left us hanging at the end wondering about it. Also, the character development was kind of slow in the start, but it got better and better towards the end, kind of like The Land of Elyon The Dark Hills Divide. The book kind of made me think that moving is just like another adventure waiting to happen, meet new friends, new house, new everything. I might be moving and I really don't want to,but this book made me think that it might not be so bad. It would be another 'adventure'. David Almond's Skellig is a thrilling, page turning book and I would reccomend it to people of all ages. If you want to find out what happens to Skellig and the baby, then you'll just have to read the book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.