Skellig

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by David Almond. Novel. 208 pages. Grades 4-7.
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Review

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We're not sure if the fact that "Skellig" is the name of a rocky, barren island off the coast of Ireland bearing a monastery called "St. Michael's" has anything to do with this book or not. Michael is, however, the name of the main character in this book. That's only one of the mysteries of this novel.

Michael worries about his new baby sister. She is ill and his parents are deeply concerned. Michael first discovers Skellig in a broken down garage on the property of his new home. Skellig lies amongst the dirt on the floor of the structure, eating flies. He can hardly move due to arthritis. He demands aspirin and "27 and 53". Unsure at first, that he has actually seen Skellig, Michael finally brings his new friend Mina to find out if she can also see Skellig.

Relieved that he is not crazy, Michael gets the aspirin but is stumped on 27 and 53. Another discomforting thing is the presence of strange humps on Skellig's shoulder blades. By accident Michael discovers that those numbers stand for Skellig's favorite Chinese food which he gets for him. Skellig is singularly unhelpful but Mina decides he must be moved into a house her family is about to renovate. Although they leave him on the ground floor, when they return they find him in the attic being fed by a mother and father owl.

Throughout all this with Skellig, Michael's new sister (unnamed, as yet) becomes more and more ill. Skellig's intercession reinforces the idea that he might be an angel but then there's that owl business. For children who like everything nice and tidy in their reading, this is not the book for them but for kids who like to expand their notion of possibility, this may be a perfect choice.

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