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By: Almond, David.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Hodder Children's Books, 1998ISBN: 0-340-71600-2.Subject(s): Premiers' Reading Challenge : 7-8 | Premiers' Reading Challenge : 9-10
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Junior Deer Park Library (DIY)
Teenage Fiction T ALMO Available IA0393702
Total reserves: 0

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon. It was the day after we moved into Falconer Road. The winter was ending. Mum had said we'd be moving just in time for the spring. Nobody else was there. Just me. The others were inside the house with Dr. Death, worrying about the baby. 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. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn't have been more wrong. I'd soon begin to see the truth about him, that there'd never been another creature like him in the world. We called it the garage because that's what the real estate agent, Mr. Stone, called it. It was more like a demolition site or a rubbish dump or like one of those ancient warehouses they keep pulling down at the wharf. Stone led us down the garden, tugged the door open, and shined his little flashlight into the gloom. We shoved our heads in at the doorway with him. "You have to see it with your mind's eye," he said. "See it cleaned, with new doors and the roof repaired. See it as a wonderful two-car garage." He looked at me with a stupid grin on his face. "Or something for you, lad-a hideaway for you and your pals. What about that, eh?" I looked away. I didn't want anything to do with him. All the way round the house it had been the same. Just see it in your mind's eye. Just imagine what could be done. All the way round I kept thinking of the old man, Ernie Myers, that had lived here on his own for years. He'd been dead nearly a week before they found him under the table in the kitchen. That's what I saw when Stone told us about seeing with the mind's eye. He even said it when we got to the dining room and there was an old cracked toilet sitting there in the comer behind a plywood screen. I just wanted him to shut up, but he whispered that toward the end Ernie couldn't manage the stairs. His bed was brought in here and a toilet was put in so everything was easy for him. Stone looked at me like he didn't think I should know about such things. I wanted to get out, to get back to our old house again, but Mum and Dad took it all in. They went on like it was going to be some big adventure. They bought the house. They started cleaning it and scrubbing it and painting it. Then the baby came too early. And here we were. Chapter 2 I NEARLY GOT INTO THE GARAGE that Sunday morning. I took my own flashlight and shined it in. The outside doors to the back lane must have fallen off years ago and there were dozens of massive planks nailed across the entrance. The timbers holding the roof were rotten and the roof was sagging in. The bits of the floor you could see between the rubbish were full of cracks and holes. The people that took the rubbish out of the house were supposed to take it out of the garage as well, but they took one look at the place and said they wouldn't go in it even for extra money. There were old chests of drawers and broken washbasins and bags of cement, ancient doors leaning against the walls, deck chairs with the cloth seats rotted away. Great rolls of rope and cable hung from nails. Heaps of water pipes and great boxes of rusty nails were scattered on the floor. Everything was covered in dust and spiders' webs. There was mortar that had fallen from the walls. 'There was a little window in one of the walls but it was filthy and there were rolls of cracked linoleum standing in front of it. The place stank of rot and dust. Even the bricks were crumbling like they couldn't bear the weight anymore. It was like the whole thing was sick of itself and would collapse in a heap and have to get bulldozed away. I heard something scratching in one of the corners, and something scuttling about; then it all stopped and it was just dead quiet in there. I stood daring myself to go in. I was just going to slip inside when I heard Mum shouting at me "Michael! What you doing?" She was at the back door. "Didn't we tell you to wait till we're sure it's I stepped back and looked at her. "Well, didn't we?" she shouted. "Yes," I said. "So keep out! All right?" I shoved the door and it lurched half shut on its single hinge. "All right?" she yelled. ',All right," said. "Yes. All right. All right." "Do you not think we've got more to worry about than stupid you getting crushed in a stupid garage? "Yes." "You just keep out, then! Right?" "Right. Right, right, right. Then I went back into the wilderness we called garden and she went back to the stupid baby. From the Paperback edition. Excerpted from Skellig by David Almond All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

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.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

British author Almond confidently narrates this recording of his first novel for young people. Michael and his family have just moved to a new home, which proves more dramatic than any of them had imagined. The house is a true fixer-upper, and Michael's new baby sister, born prematurely, is seriously ill. While his parents are consumed with worry about the baby, Michael is left alone with his own fears. But when he explores the house's crumbling garage, he discovers a frail creature with wings who becomes a most magical friend. It's hard to say whether the creature, which eventually introduces itself as Skellig, is a man, an angel or a ghost. As Michael and his new neighbor Mina spend time with Skellig, they learn about the transforming power of caring and love as they tend to Skellig's infirmities and cater to his fondness for Chinese takeout. Part mystery, part fantasy, Almond's story is made all the more memorable by his easygoing delivery and distinctive accent. Ages 8-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-9-Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister's ill, his parents are frantic, and Dr. Death has come to call. What is the strange thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies in the crumbling garage? 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. By David Almond. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Who is Skellig? Or, more correctly, what? When Michael discovers the ragged, dusty man existing on dead flies in the garage, he is shocked. But the riddle of Skellig must compete with Michael's constant worry about his baby sister, who can't seem to get well. British writer Almond, in his first book for young people, weaves a story that is part mystery, part dream, part anxious everyday life. Michael, who has moved to a new house that is sadly in need of repair, finds friendship with a girl next door, with whom he shares the secret of Skellig. It is Mina, with her authoritative knowledge of birds, who shows Michael the secret lives of owls and other birds in the area. The children's discovery that Skellig, too, has wings growing from his shoulder blades, though an extraordinary revelation, seems quite fitting as the children embark on the difficult mission of keeping Skellig alive. In many ways, this novel raises more questions than it answers. Readers are not given any definitive answers about who Skellig is, and this may bother younger readers who have the skill to read the book without the sophistication of knowing how to plumb for its deeper meanings. Accomplished readers, however, will find this an amazing work. 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. Almond is also wise enough to root the plot in the family's reaction to baby Joy's illness, thus keeping the story earthbound where it needs to be before it soars and flies away. --Ilene Cooper

Horn Book Review

The line between reality and fantasy can be very thin, and the interval between life and death even thinner. Michael becomes aware of both these truths in the course of this narrative, which begins when he and his family move into a new house. In addition to the usual anxieties accompanying such upheaval, he and his family are preoccupied with his gravely ill newborn sister. While investigating a collapsing garage on their property, he stumbles upon a stranger. From the very first page, Almond lets us know that we are in the presence of something extraordinary. ""It was as if he had been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead."" Simultaneously repulsed and drawn to him, Michael tries to keep the stranger alive with food and medicine. He meets a home-schooled neighbor, Mina, an odd girl who is a storehouse of knowledge about birds and William Blake, and takes her to see Skellig; together they glimpse wings growing from his shoulders. Just as Skellig seems to exist somewhere between life and death, so too does Michael's baby sister, and these two plot threads are adroitly intertwined in a web that connects Skellig and the baby, not just thematically but in visual terms as well: the infant's ""face was dead white and her hair was dead black""; Michael says about Skellig, ""I thought he was dead....I shined the flashlight on his white face and his black suit."" Mina and Michael move Skellig to an attic where he feeds on carrion brought him by a pair of owls. He dances a mystical, Blakean dance with the two children, then, perhaps in a dream, visits the baby in the hospital and dances with her. She survives, and Skellig departs. Is he an angel? An owl-man? We're left with mysteries just beyond our grasp. In his first novel for children, British author David Almond has given them something singular to reach for. n.v. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Book Review

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)

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