Daniel's Reviews > Skellig

Skellig by David Almond
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Nov 28, 07

bookshelves: young-adult, major-prize-winner
Read in June, 2005

A young boy's family moves to a new, old, house. The boy's infant sister is very sick and will undergo heart surgery. In the decrepit shed/garage on the new property, the boy discovers an old man, apparently a vagrant eating bugs and wasting away. When the boy tries to help the man, he discovers a pair of very frail wings folded on the man's back.

This was a wonderful, lyrical story...the kind that shows that writing for children can be very strong and powerful. There is some wonderful subtext going on, and an incredible sense of magic/fantasy, which is never treated as anything too far-fetched to be real for the children in the story. Is Skellig a man? An owl? An angel? He is never explained outright, leaving the reader to make certain decisions about him.

The character of Michael, the narrator of the story, is a wonderful change of pace. He is not the nerdy, bookish, often-picked-on child that we so often find as heroes in these sorts of books. Rather, he is the average student but star of the football (soccer) field during recess. His chums bemoan his absence and then his lack of skill on the field when he misses school. Michael's change of demeanor is attributed to the family concerns over the baby girl, and certainly this plays a major role in Michael's behavior.

Another compelling character is Mina, Michael's new, home-schooled, free-spirited friend whom he trusts with the secret of Skellig. Mina lives by the motto of William Blake's quote: "How can a bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing?"

Really a remarkable story for it's targeted age group. Should only take the adult reader a day or so of casual reading and the experience will be worth the trip.
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