David Almond is twice winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award. His first novel, SKELLIG, won the Whitbread Children's Award and the Carnegie Medal. His second, KIT'S WILDERNESS, won the Smarties Award Silver Medal, was Highly Commended for the Carnegie Medal, and shortlisted for the Guardian Award. THE FIRE-EATERS won the Whitbread, the Smarties Gold Award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. David is widely regarded as one of the most exciting and innovative children's authors writing today, and his books are bestsellers all over the world. He lives with his family in Northumberland.
British novelist Almond makes a triumphant debut in the field of children's literature with prose that is at once eerie, magical and poignant. Broken down into 46 succinct, eloquent chapters, the story begins in medias res with narrator Michael recounting his discovery of a mysterious stranger living in an old shed on the rundown property the boy's family has just purchased: "He was lying there in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he'd been there forever.... I'd soon begin to see the truth about him, that there'd never been another creature like him in the world." With that first description of Skellig, the author creates a tantalizing tension between the dank and dusty here-and-now and an aura of other-worldliness that permeates the rest of the novel. The magnetism of Skellig's ethereal world grows markedly stronger when Michael, brushing his hand across Skellig's back, detects what appears to be a pair of wings. Soon after Michael's discovery in the shed, he meets his new neighbor, Mina, a home-schooled girl with a passion for William Blake's poetry and an imagination as large as her vast knowledge of birds. Unable to take his mind off Skellig, Michael is temporarily distracted from other pressing concerns about his new surroundings, his gravely ill baby sister and his parents. Determined to nurse Skellig back to health, Michael enlists Mina's help. Besides providing Skellig with more comfortable accommodations and nourishing food, the two children offer him companionship. In response, Skellig undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis that profoundly affects the narrator's (and audience members') first impression of the curious creature, and opens the way to an examination of the subtle line between life and death. The author adroitly interconnects the threads of the story‘Michael's difficult adjustment to a new neighborhood, his growing friendship with Mina, the baby's decline‘to Skellig, whose history and reason for being are open to readers' interpretations. Although some foreshadowing suggests that Skellig has been sent to Earth on a grim mission, the dark, almost gothic tone of the story brightens dramatically as Michael's loving, life-affirming spirit begins to work miracles. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
'The night Skellig arrived I read it all through the night. It is gripping, fascinating, a beautiful book.' JOAN AIKEN 'This' A quite extraordinary book. Tender, Lyrical, yet it fairly crackles with suspense. He makes the incredible utterly credible. This is a story which burns bright from first to last, and for long after the last is over. Unforgettable. David Almond is a very special writer.' MICHAEL MORPURGO. 'Skellig is a strange little book, truly original, mysterious and affeccting. I'm suspicious of stories in which a character is ill and might die, because the situation is easy to manipulate. Half-unearthly beings that have to be looked after by troubled children are also dangerous for a less than sure-footed storyteller. But David Almond treads with delicate certainty, and the result is something genuinely strong and true.' PHILIP PULLMAN, GUARDIAN 'Skellig is absorbing. It's a sensitively written fantasy story about two children who discover a strange visitor in a derelict garage. The relationship between the three of them, and also the course of sickness of a tiny baby, are developed with great power. This is a book that boys who are less enthusiastic readers would find gripping.' KID'S OUT 'The story draws you gently but irresistibly into its mixture of fantasy and reality and, as Michael and his new friend Mina help Skellig, they learn about love, compassion, life force and nature.' SAINSBURY'S MAGAZINE 'Skellig is a beautifully written, superbly crafted modern fable which I hope will go on to both critical and financial success . . . Skellig is one of those books, like The Hobbit or Watership Down, that cross the supposed boundary between children's and adult literature. Discovered filthy, exhausted and close to death in the dangerous ruins of a derelict garage at young Michael's new home, Skellig is cajoled and bullied by Michael and his enigmatic new friend Minat to fight his way back to health. It is a touching story that would lend itself well to the style of animation given to Raymond Briggs' Snowman.' THE BOOKSELLER 'Readers who follow Michael into the crumbling and filthy building on his parents' newly purchased property will meet an utterly believable creature. Be forewarned however, David Almond, not only has an uncanny ability to indue the reader to believe in the unbelievable, but also to see, hear, sense, and smell it. A unique and utterly fascinating read.' ZILPHA KEATLEY SNYDER (US) 'I savoured this heartfelt and compelling reading experience. Thank you, David Almond!' GRAHAM SALISBURY (US) 'It is a well-spun web. David Almond weaves a tale both terse and textured about the fearful, wonderful fragility of life.' RICHARD PECK 'Very assured. And it flows in an incantational way with some nice hard edges. And it doesn't plead. The narrator is spot on. You see the somewhat sullen exterior of a boy that age and the emotions within. This is awesomely minimalist stuff. A whold family is created, particularly the father/son relationship, with admirable economy. I was stirred by Mina too. Best of all, the burden of Skellig rests upon dialogue, very good dialogue.' RICHARD PECK 'Utterly gripping . . . David Almond's quiet prose achieves the extraordinary feat of creating a character so fantastical that one never doubts his reality. When Michael and his family move house, his baby sister is desperately ill. The loneliness and fear he feels become focused on the creature he discovers in the rotting garage. Skellig - part owl, part angel - is saved by the love and concern that Michael and his new friend, Mina, have for him. Full of images of flight, laced with acutely observed detail, this is a tender and powerful tale which has a poetic and psychological accuracy. A marvellous and unnerving debut.' TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT 'An intensely written and fast moving fable . . . A considerable achievement.' BOOKS FOR KEEPS 'Tremendously innovative, highly original and very moving. David Almond is a fascinating new voice.' MELVIN BURGESS A stunning debut . . . An extraordinary book. * THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH * Touched with a visionary intensity, this strange, hugely readable and life-affirming tale exercises every muscle of the imagination. * THE GUARDIAN * 'The night Skellig arrived I read it all through the night. It is gripping, fascinating, a beautiful book.' JOAN AIKEN 'A quite extraordinary book. Tender, Lyrical, yet it fairly crackles with suspense. He makes the incredible utterly credible. This is a story which burns bright from first to last, and for long after the last is over. Unforgettable. David Almond is a very special writer.' MICHAEL MORPURGO. . . . gripping, beautiful and brilliantly written . . . Everyone is raving about this unforgettable book. * THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH * One of those books that you can't put down -- Junior Reviewer Conor Neison, aged 12 * Evening Echo (Cork) * A modern classic Listed as on the of the 100 Best Children's Books Ever (Novels) * The Daily Telegraph * A beautiful story which will enchant young and old alike * Western Morning News * Powerful and moving * Guardian.co.uk * Deservedly popular * The Observer * A bookshelf essential. * The Guardian * I can't eat a chinese takeaway without thinking about this strange and beautiful book about an angel who seems to have lost his way. -- Gill Harvey * The Big Issue * Voted Carnegie Medal's Number one Top Book of the past 70 years * The Times * A visionary story...a lyrical, magical kind of book which can be read on many different levels * The Daily Mail * Humorous, heart-stopping and haunting...an emotional roller-coaster of a read with a cliff-hanger of a conclusion. Inspired and inspiring. * Newcastle Journal * Touched with a visionary intensity, this strange, hugely readable and life-affirming tale exercises every muscle of the imagination * The Guardian * A story full of heart and magic and big confusing emotions, elegantly told by a master craftsman. A perfect piece of art -- Lucy Christopher * Big Issue (london) * Brings Magical Realism to working-class Northeast England * i (The Independent) * An exquisite book * The Sunday Telegraph * Refusing to read this book on the grounds that you are not a child makes as much sense as refusing to read crime fiction because you are not a criminal. A deep and lovely book. -- Nick Hornby * The Times * Hard to put down -- Liz Lightfoot * The Daily Telegraph * The sort of children's book that makes adults find excuses to read more of them * Times Educational Supplement * An exquisitely crafted book with a mystical core * The Daily Telegraph * This modern classic has been reissued in a beautiful 15th anniversary edition -- Lorna Bradbury * The Sunday Telegraph * The book I wish I'd written is Skellig by David Almond. Almond's book has a great sense of the mysterious; we are left with a sense of wonder. I wish that I had written it! -- Joseph Delaney * Books For Keeps * Lyrical, innovative and moving...unforgettably moving -- Cressida Cowell * Sunday Express * Lyrical, innovative and unforgettably moving. * Sunday Express (Cressida Cowell) *
Gr 5-9‘Exploring a tumbling-down shed on the property his family has just bought, Michael finds Skellig, an ailing, mysterious being who is suffering from arthritis, but who still relishes Chinese food and brown ale. Michael also meets his neighbor Mina, a homeschooled girl. When she's not trying to open his eyes and ears to the world around him, she is spouting William Blake. As Michael begins nursing Skellig back to health, he realizes that there is something odd about his shoulders. Together, he and Mina move Skellig to a safe place, release the wings they find on his back from his jacket, and look after him until he eventually moves on. Throughout the story, readers share Michael's overriding concern for his infant sister, who is gravely ill. In the end, little Joy comes home from the hospital safe and happy and Michael's life has been greatly enriched by his experiences with her, Skellig, and Mina. The plot is beautifully paced and the characters are drawn with a graceful, careful hand. Mina, for all her smugness, is charmingly wide-eyed over Skellig. Michael is a bruising soccer player but displays a tenderness that is quite touching and very refreshing. Even minor characters are well defined. The plot pivots on the question of what Skellig is. It is a question that will keep readers moving through the book, trying to make sense of the cleverly doled out clues. 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.‘Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
Gr 5-9-Two lonely children form a bond when they secretly take on the care of a crusty, otherworldly old man living in a ramshackled garage. A mystical story of love and friendship. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.