Skellig

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Skellig

by David Almond

Random House Children's Books | April 13, 1999 | Hardcover

5 out of 5 rating. 3 Reviews
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David Almond's Printz Honor-winning novel is a captivating modern classic.

Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael's world changes forever. . . .

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 208 Pages, 5.91 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: April 13, 1999

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 038532653x

ISBN - 13: 9780385326537

Appropriate for ages: 8 - 12

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– More About This Product –

Skellig

Skellig

by David Almond

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 208 Pages, 5.91 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: April 13, 1999

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 038532653x

ISBN - 13: 9780385326537

Read from the Book

Something little and black scuttled across the floor. The door creaked and cracked for a moment before it was still. Dust poured through the flashlight beam. Something scratched and scratched in a corner. I tiptoed further in and felt spiderwebs breaking on my brow. Everything was packed in tight--ancient furniture, kitchen units, rolled-up carpets, pipes and crates and planks. I kept ducking down under the hoses and ropes and duffel bags that hung from the roof. More cobwebs snapped on my clothes and skin. The floor was broken and crumbly. I opened a cupboard an inch, shined the flashlight in, and saw a million woodlice scattering away. I peered down into a great stone jar and saw the bones of some little animal that had died in there. Dead bluebottles were everywhere. There were ancient newspapers and magazines. I shined the flashlight onto one and saw that it came from nearly fifty years ago. I moved so carefully. I was scared every moment that the whole thing was going to collapse. There was dust clogging my throat and nose. I knew they''d be yelling for me soon and I knew I''d better get out. I leaned across a heap of tea chests and shined the torch into the space behind and that''s when I saw him. I thought he was dead. He was sitting with his legs stretched out and his head tipped back against the wall. He was covered in dust and webs like everything else and his face was thin and pale. Dead bluebottles were scattered on his hair and shoulders. I shined the flashlight
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From the Publisher

David Almond's Printz Honor-winning novel is a captivating modern classic.

Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael's world changes forever. . . .

From the Jacket

Young readers will by enchanted by this magical tale of friendship and family:
Michael was looking forward to his new house and neighborhood, until his infant sister became very ill. Now his parents are constantly frantic, the scary doctor is always coming around, and Michael feels helpless. When he goes out into the old rickety garage, he comes across a mysterious being living beneath spider webs and eating flies for dinner. This creature calls himself Skellig, and over the weeks Michael and his new friend Mina bring Skellig out in to the light, and their worlds change forever.

About the Author

David Almond grew up in a large family in northeastern England. He worked as a postman, a brush salesman, an editor, and a teacher but began to write seriously after he finished college. He lives in England with his partner and their daughter.

From Our Editors

David wants nothing more than to be able to help his parents through his baby sister's illness, but he feels useless. When he discovers a strange owl-like man in his garage, his problems seem to multiply. Suddenly his normal life, filled with soccer, friends and school is completely turned around. With his neighbour, a mysterious girl his age named Mina, he explores the world of supernatural wonder that springs up wherever they look. Whether it's the odd creature, Mina's blackbird chicks, or his sister in an incubator, everything seems intertwined and in desperate need of freedom. David Almond's magical Skellig won the 1998 Whitbread Award for best kid's book.

Editorial Reviews

Skellig is the winner of the 1998 British Whitbread Award for Children''s Literature.

Praise for Skellig:

"The author adroitly interconnects the threads of the story...to Skellig, whose history and reason for being are open to readers'' interpretations.... [T]he story brightens dramatically as Michael''s loving, life-affirming spirit begins to work miracles."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The plot pivots on the question of what Skellig is....The beauty here is that there is no answer and readers will be left to wonder and debate, and make up their own minds.  A lovingly done, thought-provoking novel."
--School Library Journal, starred review

"The marvelous and the everyday mix in haunting, memorable ways."
--Kirkus Reviews, pointer

"Some of the writing takes one''s breath away, especially the scenes in which Almond, without flinching, describes the beauty and the horror that is Skellig."
--Booklist, starred review

"I read this luminous novel with a sense of wonder, and it''s left an imprint on my mind--and, yes, my heart--that will not easily, if ever, fade.  In fact, I think Skellig deserves that risky adjective--unforgettable."
--Robert Cormier, author

Bookclub Guide

US

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 world?

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 return?

Appropriate for ages: 8 - 12

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