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Clay Hardcover – Jul 25 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 25 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038573171X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731713
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,713,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–As in Kit's Wilderness (2000) and The Fire-Eaters (2004, both Delacorte), Almond revisits the English north country of his youth to spin this metaphysical tale of boys in conflict. Davie and his friend Geordie are altar boys, but are beginning to doubt the value of their long-held religious beliefs. They live in fear of the bullying Mouldy, a hulking, drunken lout from a neighboring village whom they're sure is out to kill them. Enter Stephen, a slightly older boy whose father is dead, whose mother is mad, and who was reputedly kicked out of priestly training for some kind of trouble related to devil worship and performing a Black Mass. A talented sculptor, he proceeds to scare Davie silly with his talk of creating life, of creating, in fact, a monster that will wreak revenge on Mouldy. Davie sees Stephen's clay figures move. Is it hypnotism, faith, or madness? Whatever, their monster is eventually made real. Mouldy may have been killed by it in a fall from a cliff, and Davie wrestles with his guilt until he ultimately destroys it. This is a Catholic ghost story, a sort of Secret Life of Boys with which many readers, should they persevere through the heavily nuanced language, will identify. While the look of the book is deceptively simple, the weighty content of the plot and its accompanying themes are chilling, indeed.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 6-9. In Almond's beautiful novel Skellig (1999), a boy finds a fragile angel-like creature in his garden shed, but in this book the magical realism goes much further. The author sets a Frankenstein monster story in a small, contemporary English town. Mischievous altar boy Davie explains how a strange new kid, Stephen, convinces him to steal the body and blood of Christ from church, which the boys use to create a huge clay monster that obeys their wishes. Should the boys send Clay to kill Mouldy, the vicious local bully? When Mouldy falls to his death in the local quarry, Davie wonders if Clay is responsible. Is the monster reading his thoughts? How much of Davie is in the monster? The scary monster-come-to-town story raises big issues about God, creativity, and evil, but Davie's first-person narrative is never preachy. Discussions about art ("our passion to create goes with our passion to destroy") and religion (Has God abandoned us because we created nuclear bombs and gas chambers?) are beautifully handled, as is the portrait of Davie's happy family. Rooted in the ordinariness of a community and in one boy's chance to play God, this story will grab readers with its gripping action and its important ideas. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Format: Hardcover
"I am here master, command me."

Thirteen-year-old Davie and his best friend, Geordie, have a wild time when Stephen Rose moves into Crazy Mary's house; she's the craziest woman they know. When the church paster informs Davie that he is expected to be friends with this new, weird kid, he is in shock.

When Stephen shows Davie how they both have powers to make things come to life, Davie's life starts falling apart. He and Geordie are not friends anymore, he's stealing from his church, the girl he loves thinks he's crazy, and he and Stephen Rose are making a life-size monster--and it makes absolutely no sense at all.

When this brilliant idea of bringing something to life turns into a total meltdown and starts to kill someone, Davie has no choice but the obvious. What will he do, or what can he do?

This is a great book that I think explores the unknown imagination. It is a well-written story that has exciting detail in each chapter.

Reviewed by: Holly
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I'm Just Saying. July 31 2006
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It isn't very chilling or exciting, but David Almond's CLAY is about as contemporary as they come. A trio of young boys footloose and alone in a sleepy town in the English countryside. One of the boys, Stephen Rose, a newcomer to the town of Felling, is a little bit strange. The narrator, Davie, has known the whole community for years, the good, the bad and the indifferent. His best friend, Geordie Craggs, is his alter ego, his opposite number, and the two of them have lived in mortal fear of a pack of neighborhood bullies for many years.

They are both altar boys, and while the kindly Irish parish priest, Father O'Mahoney, fails to molest them sexually, he is otherwise constructed from every cliche of fictional priests since the glory days of Graham Greene. It's a shame that Almond couldn't have met perhaps one real priest before writing this travesty; his character development might have improved. Crazy Mary likewise couldn't have been less original. I don't know, maybe kids like this kind of "shorthand" and don't mind the invocation of stereotypes at every turn. I decided to read this book aloud to a pair of 12 year old I know, and one of them seemed fascinated by it, while the other, sort of a goth little boy, knew by chapter five how every twist and turn was going to play out, and he guessed correctly about 85 per cent of the time.

Well, the three boys plan to stop the bullies by animating a sculpted figure made of indigenous clay, that they call Mouldy. "You just did what God did," one exclaims, "only faster." Methinks Felling's a gooey place even in the best of times. One cute note is Davie's growing infatuation with a lithe, curious, female student. The whole novel could have been about them, instead of this tired Frankenstein homage, and I would have been quite satisfied. But half of the kids I know would have turned on me for suggesting such a thing. They like CLAY and they like their David Almond.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An utterly creepy tale of good versus evil Jan. 12 2007
By Teen Reads - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David Almond's latest effort, CLAY, is an utterly creepy tale of good versus evil. Set in the English north countryside --- like Almond's Printz Award-winning novel, KIT'S WILDERNESS, and Whitbread Award winner THE FIRE-EATERS --- CLAY tells the story of Davie, a 13-year-old altar boy who finds his faith questioned when a new boy comes to town who claims he can make a monster out of clay.

At the beginning of the story, Davie is just your typical mischievous altar boy who along with his friend Geordie enjoys stealing the sacramental wine and smoking stolen cigarettes. They do go to confession each week though to make up for it. Along with their altar boy antics, Davie and Geordie are enemies with the town bully, a typically drunken and belligerent Protestant named Martin Mould, aka Mouldy. They're convinced that Mouldy is out to get them, and against Mouldy's entourage Davie and Geordie know they don't stand a chance.

When a mysterious and creepy new kid named Stephen Rose shows up in town, and Father O'Mahoney encourages them to befriend the troubled young man, Davie and Geordie think that maybe Stephen is exactly what they need to win the Mouldy war. But Stephen seems nearly as crazy as the aunt he lives with, who is known as Crazy Mary from town. Plus, Stephen has a mysterious past that includes a dead father, a mother in a mental hospital and an expelling from his last school.

When Stephen stabs one of Mouldy's chums, Geordie freaks out, but Davie remains oddly enthralled with the creepy kid and finds himself spending more and more time alone with him. Then, Stephen shows Davie what he can do with clay and how he can make it move and turn to life. When Stephen comes up with a plan to make a monster out of clay, Davie is caught in the middle. A monster would help protect him against Martin Mould. But still, does that justify Davie stealing the body and blood of Christ from the church in order to give the clay creature a soul?

Things get out of control when the clay creature comes to life and taunts Davie's thoughts and dreams saying over and over, "I am here, master. Command me." It's up to Davie to figure out his feelings about both God and playing God. How will he deal with this monster named Clay?

David Almond's writing is concise yet hauntingly resonates after the last page. CLAY is like a reinvented FRANKENSTEIN roaming the hills of the English countryside. Warning: You might have nightmares after reading this one.

--- Reviewed by Kristi Olson
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Frankenstein Goes Clay-mation Dec 13 2007
By Ken C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Here's an odd book -- YA, but more rightly coined a book about teens for adults -- that will certainly NOT appeal to reluctant readers. In fact, David Almond's CLAY features Northern England dialect and themes about good and evil that are a challenge for readers, and even though it is said that girls will read books written for boys (though the opposite is not true), I wonder how many girls would actually read and enjoy this.

One creepy read, CLAY follows the rough-and-tumble adventures of protagonist Davie (13) and his best pal Geordie, two altar boys in it for the tips who scrap with Protestant boys now and again, avoiding all the while the hulking and dangerous Protestant presence of one Martin Mouldy.

Enter the dragon in the form of Stephen Rose (from who knows where). Stephen's father is dead (by accident?), his mother mad (by design?), and he's sent to be brought up by the village madwomen herself, Crazy Mary. Stephen Rose has a talent for sculpting "men" out of clay, and he's about to breath one to life, but needs Davie to help pull it off. Davie (the good angel) and Stephen (the bad) become the "Masters" of Clay, a creature that echoes both his creators specifically and mankind in general, being a creature of both great promise and greater disappointment. When a murder occurs after the monster's afoot, the novel takes on a life of its own. Hypnotism? Dreams? Madness? Reality? The lines are deliberately blurred as Clay repeatedly wanders the landsccape and asks commands of its terrified master, Davie.

As an adult reader, I was intrigued by this book. I wouldn't buy it for my 8th-grade classroom library, though, because I don't believe it would fly. I pull a star for two reasons -- Almond gets over-the-top melodramatic with Stephen's character at the climax, and some characters (especially Davie's romantic interest, Maria) seem "thrown in" and go nowhere after the promise of going somewhere (always an annoyance to readers). If you're a fan of dead men walking, however, I suggest giving it a try.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If Things Don't Get Out of Hand March 6 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Winning of the Printz Award for his young adult novel KIT'S WILDERNESS and nominated for the Printz with his first novel SKELLIG, David Almond has delivered CLAY, another quality story that has made the ALA's 2007 Best Books for Young Adults list.

"The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." ~ Genesis 2:7

Thirteen-year-old Davie and Geordie serve as altar boys under the tutelage of Father O'Mahoney, receiving tips for grieving at funerals and help out wherever needed at the masses. Like all good altar boys, they crave adventure and live in fear of the town bully. Noticing this and trying to stretch their souls to a little goodness, O'Mahoney challenges them to befriend the weirdest kid in their English countryside town. "He just needs a few mates." "From the very start, he had a good heart."

If one were looking, Stephen Rose could be found in the garden staring at the moon. Howling in the shed. Carrying lumps of clay around in the graveyard. He lives with Crazy Mary because his mother is crackers, his father's dead, and his granddad's wild. Which might not be nowt serious if that's all it was. But there are the rumors too. Black Masses. Upside-down crosses. Black candles. The "Our Father" backwards. Dark things in dark places.

"There but for the grace of God..."

As David and Geordie get to know Stephen, they quickly learn that dust and wood isn't enough for Stephen to do the Lord's work--Stephen needs clay. He has the amazing gift of sculpting, the ability to turn common mud into astounding images. He sees art in the clay. He sees life there. Ever since the angel visited him, he says he's longed to do something special with his life, to rise above the ordinary and create something lasting, something people will remember him for. Which might end up a noble enough cause, if things don't get out of hand.

-- Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens

Copyright 1997-2007, Teenreads.com. All rights reserved.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of Teens Read Too Feb. 24 2007
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"I am here master, command me."

Thirteen-year-old Davie and his best friend, Geordie, have a wild time when Stephen Rose moves into Crazy Mary's house; she's the craziest woman they know. When the church paster informs Davie that he is expected to be friends with this new, weird kid, he is in shock.

When Stephen shows Davie how they both have powers to make things come to life, Davie's life starts falling apart. He and Geordie are not friends anymore, he's stealing from his church, the girl he loves thinks he's crazy, and he and Stephen Rose are making a life-size monster--and it makes absolutely no sense at all.

When this brilliant idea of bringing something to life turns into a total meltdown and starts to kill someone, Davie has no choice but the obvious. What will he do, or what can he do?

This is a great book that I think explores the unknown imagination. It is a well-written story that has exciting detail in each chapter.

Reviewed by: Holly


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