David Almond is one of the most respected authors for children and young adults in the world. He was awarded the International Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2010 for his contribution to children’s literature, this contribution starting with his much loved and debut novel, Skellig (1998). Published in the UK by Hodder, the novel went on to win the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year and the Carnegie Medal. In 2007, for the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal, Skellig was named in the top ten medal-winning works and certified itself as one of the greatest ever books for young readers.
“What are you?” I whispered.
He shrugged again.
“Something,” he said. “Something like you, something like a beast, something like a bird, something like an angel.” He laughed. “Something like that.”
Beautiful, raw and inspiring. Skellig is a masterpiece, personally it opened up a whole new world of children’s literature I had never stepped in to before. The novel follows a young boy called Michael who has just moved into a new house with his mother, father and newborn baby sister. The house is decrepit, a toilet sits in the living room and the shed in the middle of the overgrown garden looks as if a strong gust of wind could turn it into a pile of rubble and dust. What’s worse is Michael’s family have moved to the other side of town, far away from his friends and now he must take a bus ride to school. However, the real thing haunting Michael, the thing creeping into his dreams, his nightmares, is his sister. Her breathing is labored, the doctor is visiting every other day and eventually she has to go back to hospital. Michael is trying to stay strong and hold himself together for his parent’s sake, his sister’s sake and for his sake, but the discovery of a strange and malnourished creature in the rickety garden shed turns the already trouble Michael’s world upside down. This creature, sits half-dead among the dust and muck of the shed, he’s almost human, but clearly not and has a penchant for Chinese food. The story which follows is one of hope, friendship and family, which Almond crafts in his completely original strand of magical realism.
Skellig is a must read for all young readers, not just for the heartwarming tale it weaves, but for the majesty Almond has written it. It’s a stepping stone for young readers in reading literature and conveys many themes and issues expertly for children and those interested in studying or writing children’s literature.
BB Rating: 4.1/5
Follow me on Twitter: @ByfordsBooks