Skellig

Common Sense Media says

This gorgeously weird novel captivates readers.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

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

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Occasional, mild, religiously themed swearing.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.
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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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
Number of pages:182
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of Skellig was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old January 26, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
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 or hate it. As Michael is moving house with his mum pregnant it is a very tense time for the 10 year old. In one chapter it is calm and relaxing, in the next it’s really haunting. The author fills your head with lots of questions and in some cases they never get answered. In part of the book Skellig says "27 and 53" and it’s not till a few chapters later you find out what it is. This is a book I would really want to read again.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old January 26, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

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 time. The characters in the book can be kind at time although Skellig doesn’t want anything to do with anyone! The story line can be bad like when the baby almost dies. It can be interesting at times, but can also be boring. The magical thing about this book is how Skellig is an angel in the end.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old January 26, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Skellig !!!

So far this book is an inspirational and sets pictures in my head. The language is powerful here is an example on it "Dead bluebottles were scatted on his hair and shoulders. The book is a strong minded book and is well written. Also you get engaged to the characters as it is a heart throbbing story .But there is a little language. Overall i recommend this book to imaginative children.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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