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on June 11, 2001
Michael was looking forward to moving house. Then the baby became ill and "Doctor Death" keeps coming to visit. Michael wishes he and his family had just stayed where they were. Then he steps into the crumbling, tumble-down garage. The garage that conceals a secret that is about to change Michael's world forever.
When Michael discovers the mysterious creature known only as'Skellig', he can only guess at who or what he is and why he is there. Together with his friend Mina, Michael cares for the strange mixture of bird/man/angel, but his baby sister just doesn't seem to get well. Is it possible that the mysterious Skellig can save her?
"Skellig" is a beautifully written story that is both powerful and sensitive. I have read a huge number of both children and adults' books, but this is one of the ones that stand out. It strays from the usual children's book formula and has an ending that is completely unexpected and unpredictable. The characters are unusual and well described and the author paints a vivid picture of the events that unfold. The book is both entertaining and informative and keeps the reader hooked throughout. I have read both of David Almond's other books, Kit's Wilderness and Heaven Eyes, and would rank this in the middle, with Kit's Wilderness as my far and away favourite.
I would recommend this to both children and adults and if you enjoyed this, I would suggest "Kit's Wilderness" and "Heaven Eyes", both by the same author.
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on April 11, 2001
What a fascinating book. Answers the question, "What would happen if Blake were growing up today seeing his visions?" The Blake figure here is split between two: The narrator, Michael, a regular boy with assorted family problems, and his new neighbour, a home educated girl who already is visionary, yet has to be shown Skellig by Michael. The question is posed but never answered fully, what or who Skellig is. He just is, and it is up to us to accept his presence, as do Michael and Mina. Is he an Archeopteryx ~ a hint of the future of man? an angel? an hallucination? I dare say that how the reader answers says more about the reader than about what Almond wrote. Skillfully written; real children, with real feelings and reactions (i especially like Mina's superiority about not going to school); just the right amount of coincidence (studying evolution at school prepares the kids for the Archeopteryx idea); good suspense, particularly about Michael's family situation; and a clever and very unusual plot. No wonder twelve-year-old Chenowyth loved loved loved loved it.
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on September 6, 1999
The other reviewers do a good job of capturing the mystery and engaging nature of this book. The student from Shropshire, England is probably the only critique you need. However, I've had a few friends read it and they were somewhat repulsed by some of the graphic descriptions of the Skellig character, so I guess this isn't for everyone. It does have layers that make it more than a children's book, and engaging characters that make it a fun read. A cynic would choke on it, but if you are willing to read it as an allegory, and a study of the human heart, you will be swept away.
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on March 12, 2001
I just read this book in an afternoon. Not because it is short(it is fairly compact), but because it was so compelling. I couldn't put it down. Almond's imagery is breathtaking and his ability to take you into the moment with Michael and his not altogether acknowledged or undertood anxiety about his life, the recent move and the ill-health of his infant sister is instantly alluring and involved. Almond manages to beautifully capture moments in adolescence with a rare maturity that gives life to the characters and reminds us how children are more receptive and adaptive to change and the unknown than adults give them credit for. Wonderful, wonderful story. An instant favorite.
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on May 30, 2000
As a young-adult writer, I read many books for this age group. Often, they tend to be formulaic. Not Skellig! From the moment Michael discovers the strange creature -- man, bird, or angel? -- in his parents' garage, I was taken in. You will be too, whether you're a child or an adult. Almond's attention to detail (Would an other-worldly being eat chinese food?) is what gets you. But what holds you are Michael's "real world" problems, his baby sister's illness, his family's move, the fact that his old friends, Leakey and Coot, think his new friend, Mina, strange. I was unable to put this book down until I found the resolution. I'll be buying a copy for my 10-year-old nephew, but I recommend it for both kids and adults.
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on August 24, 2002
I read Skellig as a writer of children's books, not as a reader. There weren't any kids to tell me what they thought of it, so this review is from the standpoint of an adult, not a child.
Skellig, recommended by the Dripping Springs, TX librarian (there were no copies available, so I bought one), encompasses the fears of all children going through family changes. In this instance, the main character, Michael, is dealing with a move to a new place, the illness of his crib-bound younger sister, stressed parents, and the challenge of making new friends while keeping the old friends.
The storyline, although a little trite, is revived by the author's willingness to let his main character worry. Yes, worry. You don't really see this in Harry Potter much at all and maybe that's a downfall. Fiction for kids is often escapist and the storylines rarely work if there is too much real-life worrying it it. This one works because of the oft-used dream sequencing that makes the worrying more like a bad nightmare than a problem.
The book's hook is that no one knows about Skellig except Mina and Michael who have become neighbors. Their interaction with Skellig is mystical and nicely done.
The author also presents real-life dilemmas - the nature of evolution (not as opposed to religion, however) as well as the value of public schooling.
I'm glad I read Skellig. It will present mental challenges to youngsters who have never thought about these types of dilemmas nor the nature of their own existence.
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on June 30, 2002
Skellig is an interesting book. If you're used to characters that are really engaging, this book only has one, and it's not the main character. It's the atmosphere of this book that helps elevate it to a four star review. It feels surreal, and perhaps, this is why the main character left me dissapointed (a bit mind you) in his personality. He seems to be drifting along, and skellig, is the anchor that helps him from drifting away from things. His infant sister is in ill health, and when he discovers skellig, a little magic is introduced to his life, as is a way to bond with a peculiar, home schooled, neighbor girl. I shouldn't be so heavy handed with the main character's lack of vitality, because I think he's supposed to be one you can easily put yourself in, and in a book as spiritual as skellig, that's what is needed. Give it a shot if you think nature is...mysterious.
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on July 22, 2002
Michael has just moved into a run down new house that needs a great deal of repair. His mother just gave birth to a new baby sister - but the baby needs to stay in the hospital because it is very ill. When the baby finally does come home, the doctor who tends to the baby does not seem very positive. Aching from the turmoil in his new life, Michael quests into the garage, where he finds a creature. Is it real? Or is it his imagination? When the garage begins to crumble, Michael calls on the aide of his unique neighbor and friend Mina to save the creature. Written in a beautifully graceful and poetic style, touching on deep spirituality without ever becoming convoluted and lost, Skellig should be read by everyone. It will change you.
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on May 22, 2001
David Almond provides much food for thought in his debut novel Skellig. Issues of change, death, boy-girl friendships, the nature of learning, and faith are all explored and then some.
In addition, this novel requires some "research," if the full meaning of Almond's symbolism is to be understood. It is a great novel both for showing kids the stresses in life (sick little sister, drifting apart from friends), as well as teaching them about literary techniques (forshadowing, symbolism).
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on March 14, 2004
Michael and his family moved to a new house. It was supposed to be for the best. He also has a new baby sister that is very ill and makes his family worry. Michael feels helpless. The new house is a filthy, dusty, and dark place, which once dwelt a sick old man who has recently died. To Michael it is a demolition site or a rubbish dump. HIs parents forbid him to go anywhere in the house until it is cleaned up and safe, but Michael is curious and wants to explore. One day he steps into the dark and mysterious garage of the new house with a flashlight. There are pieces of "blue bottles", rubbish, old chests of drawers, and broken washbasins. The wood and cloth on the seats of chairs are rotting away and bags of cement are lying all around. He explores throughout the garage flashing his flashlight all around. He finds a figure that looks like a man sitting on a chair that is beside a window. He is filthy with blue bottles in his hair and he's pale. Michael is frightened but curious so he speaks to the figure. The figure reveals his name as "Skellig". His voice is squeaky because he hasn't spoke for a few years and Michael finds out he has survived eating bugs and mice. Skellig seems to have Arteritis and has trouble moving. Across the street a girl named Mina lives there. She helps Michael to take care of Skellig. They aren't sure if Skellig is a man, bird, angel, or somthing beyond imagination. They take care of him and in return Skellig helps Michael's baby sister get better. When Skellig gets well he flys away into the sky without a single trace.
This book was great. It was a hand gripping novel which, i couldn't put down. One of my favorite quotes from this book is "27 and 53" from page 19. 27 and 53 is a combination of Skellig's favorite Chinese take-out that Michael usually got for him while taking care of Skellig. Another quote i liked from this book was "He sounded like he was loving it, or he was in pain, or both those things together" from page 29. This was when Michael gave Skellig 27 and 53, which was very descriptive.
I also like this book because it had alot of words that made the pictures form in my head, which made it look real when you imagined it. It was a cliff hanger not only in each chapter, but seemed like a cliff hanger in each of the paragraphs. The characters were interesting and had unique personalities of their own, like Mina. This book was "mysterious" and unpredictable like most books i have read. It had a happy ending and it showed that some problems got solved and some didn't.
My favorite part of this book was when Michael goes in to the garage and discovers that there is a "creature"that hasn't been out in years. It would frightening if that really happened to anyone but the fact that Michael discovered Skellig is what the story is all about. Skellig is mysterious and a character that made a mistake long before, that Michael and Mina help him solve. The descriptions that the author, David Almond brings Skellig into life that you can really see even though this book contained no pictures. Skellig is a great book and David Almond is a brilliant author. I truly enjoyed this book.
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