SKELLIG by David Almond
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 11 - 13
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Almond pens a powerful, atmospheric story: A pall of anxiety hangs over Michael (and his parents) as his prematurely born baby sister fights for her life. The routines of school provide some relief, when Michael can bear to go. His discovery, in a ramshackle outbuilding, of Skellig, a decrepit creature somewhere between an angel and an owl, provides both distraction and rejuvenation; he and strong-minded, homeschooled neighbor Mina nurse Skellig back to health with cod liver pills and selections from a Chinese take-out menu. While delineating characters with brilliant economy—Skellig's habit of laughing without smiling captures his dour personality perfectly—Almond adds resonance to the plot with small parallel subplots and enhances his sometimes transcendent prose (" 'Your sister's got a heart of fire,' " comments a nurse after the baby survives a risky operation) with the poetry of and anecdotes about William Blake. The author creates a mysterious link between Skellig and the infant, then ends with proper symmetry, sending the former, restored, winging away as the latter comes home from the hospital. As in Berlie Doherty's Snake-Stone (1996) or many of Janet Taylor Lisle's novels, the marvelous and the everyday mix in haunting, memorable ways. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 13th, 1999
ISBN: 038532653X
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Delacorte