Skellig

David Almond, Author Delacorte Press $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-385-32653-7
British novelist Almond makes a triumphant debut in the field of children's literature with prose that is at once eerie, magical and poignant. Broken down into 46 succinct, eloquent chapters, the story begins in medias res with narrator Michael recounting his discovery of a mysterious stranger living in an old shed on the rundown property the boy's family has just purchased: ""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.... I'd soon begin to see the truth about him, that there'd never been another creature like him in the world."" With that first description of Skellig, the author creates a tantalizing tension between the dank and dusty here-and-now and an aura of other-worldliness that permeates the rest of the novel. The magnetism of Skellig's ethereal world grows markedly stronger when Michael, brushing his hand across Skellig's back, detects what appears to be a pair of wings. Soon after Michael's discovery in the shed, he meets his new neighbor, Mina, a home-schooled girl with a passion for William Blake's poetry and an imagination as large as her vast knowledge of birds. Unable to take his mind off Skellig, Michael is temporarily distracted from other pressing concerns about his new surroundings, his gravely ill baby sister and his parents. Determined to nurse Skellig back to health, Michael enlists Mina's help. Besides providing Skellig with more comfortable accommodations and nourishing food, the two children offer him companionship. In response, Skellig undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis that profoundly affects the narrator's (and audience members') first impression of the curious creature, and opens the way to an examination of the subtle line between life and death. The author adroitly interconnects the threads of the story--Michael's difficult adjustment to a new neighborhood, his growing friendship with Mina, the baby's decline--to Skellig, whose history and reason for being are open to readers' interpretations. Although some foreshadowing suggests that Skellig has been sent to Earth on a grim mission, the dark, almost gothic tone of the story brightens dramatically as Michael's loving, life-affirming spirit begins to work miracles. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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FORMATS
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52643-1
Hardcover - 205 pages - 978-0-7862-2344-2
Prebound-Glued - 182 pages - 978-0-613-84565-6
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-440-41602-9
Prebound-Glued - 978-0-606-19192-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 182 pages - 978-0-440-22908-7
Paperback - 118 pages - 978-0-340-85433-4
Paperback - 170 pages - 978-0-340-94495-0
Hardcover - 118 pages - 978-0-340-90555-5
Paperback - 170 pages - 978-0-340-99704-8
Prebound-Glued - 182 pages - 978-0-7569-0218-6
Compact Disc - 3 pages - 978-0-7393-8585-2
Prebound-Glued - 182 pages - 978-0-613-28330-4
Hardcover - 978-957-8211-75-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-8588-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-8587-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-09685-1
Hardcover - 978-1-84456-932-8
Hardcover - 978-1-4449-1983-7
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