Skellig by David Almond

‘Do you know what shoulder blades are for? They’re where your wings were, and where they’ll grow again.’ This quote from David Almond’s Skellig holds the mystery that threads this story together. A story that is mythic and otherworldly and yet vital, real and ordinary too. It is a story about a young boy named Michael and his gravely ill baby sister, who is fighting to survive an undisclosed illness that has kept her hospitalised for most of her short life.

Emotions in Michael’s family are pained and exposed, and life feels like it’s on tenterhooks for this family. But then Michael makes two significant friends; one, a strange being named Skellig who inhabits the derelict garage at the back of Michael’s house, and Mina, a young girl who has a way of looking at the detail of life and seeing the extraordinary. Some readers might be drawn to Michael and his human struggle, others to Skellig given his unearthliness but, for me, it was Mina and her precocious insight; such as her comment, ‘Evolution is never-ending … we have to be ready to move forward.’ Almond’s Skellig is strange, beautiful and lyrical storytelling for the empathetic reader aged 10+.

Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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David Almond

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