Skellig

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Skellig Book Poster Image
This gorgeously weird novel captivates readers.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 47 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence

Michael and his family are afraid his baby sister is dying.

Sex
Language

Occasional, mild, religiously themed swearing.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a beautifully written, unique, moody story that has strong emotional appeal for avid readers. Flowing language conveys a story of two children determined to help another, and to grow closer to each other.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 year old Written byCSM Screen Name... January 26, 2011

an entertaining read

I think this book is good because it makes you think about how nice you can be instead of being selfish. This is a good read for an 11+ but it might bore some o... Continue reading
Adult Written byWill_coates January 26, 2011
I think this book is a good influence on kids because,it shows love and care such as Micheals little baby sister is in hospital with a heart problem but he show... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 26, 2011
Skellig is a magical and inspiring book I couldn't put down. It is full of truths, inspiration and friendship. It is a book that you would either love it o... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 26, 2011

Good for younger kids!

Skellig... I think this book was ok, but I’m not sure it was my type of book. At some points in the story it gives good messages and bad messages at the same ti... Continue reading

What's the story?

Michael's family has just moved to an old fixer-upper. But his baby sister is in the hospital with a heart problem, and Michael feels devastated and helpless.

When he sneaks into the crumbling garage, Michael finds a stranger named Skellig living (or apparently dying) there, a man immobilized by arthritis, subsisting on insects and spiders, and surrounded by owl pellets. While helping him, Michael discovers that the man is oddly light and has strange growths on his back that may be wings. \

\ As Skellig begins to inhabit Michael's dreams, he and his new friend, Mina, help Skellig into an abandoned house. There Skellig seems to have an odd relationship with the owls, who bring him food. And as Michael's mother keeps vigil by the baby's hospital bed, Michael begins to feel his sister's heart beating within his own, and Skellig appears in his mother's dreams as well.

Is it any good?

David Almond's gorgeously weird first novel holds readers entranced in a spell woven of moonlight, owls, and poetry. The author uses language to weave an intricate spell, and there are unforgettable scenes that are burned into memory in an instant: the moment Michael first discovers Skellig, covered with spider webs and dead bluebottles; a room lit only by shafts of moonlight, in which the children and Skellig join hands and dance in a circle that floats into the air; Michael's mother, half-dreaming, seeing Skellig lifting her ailing baby out of her hospital bed, and watching as wings seem to sprout from the infant's back.

Another unusual and compelling feature is that it is never really clear just what Skellig is -- human, bird, angel, or all three. But in this strange and soaringly lyrical story, Michael and Mina are comfortable with ambiguity ("Sometimes we just have to accept there are things we can't know," Mina says), and the reader of this haunting story will have to accept this as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the mysterious Skellig and whether he's part animal, part human or something altogether different. Do you think Skellig is an angel? Do you believe in angels? Why or why not? If you had to draw a picture of Skellig, what would he look like? Parents and kids might also enjoy researching the works of English poet William Blake, whom Mina refers to on several occasions.

Book details

  • Author: David Almond
  • Genre: Family Life
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publication date: January 1, 1998
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
  • Number of pages: 182

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