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 calms Michael 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
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