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Skellig: 10th-Anniversary Edition    by David Almond order for
by David Almond
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2009 (1998)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael's family is in crisis. They had just moved into a dillapidated house that needs a great deal of work, when the new baby came early. Something is wrong with it and the doctor, named Doctor Death by Michael, hovers like a vulture. Michael's parents are anxious and distracted. At loose ends, he investigates the rotting garage. It's full of junk, scuttling things ... and something else, whose name is Skellig.

When Michael finally looks closely, he finds someone 'covered in dust and webs like everything else'. He surreptitiously feeds Skellig '27 and 53', aspirins and brown ale, and this mysterious character grows stronger. In the meantime Michael meets the assertive and articulate Mina, who lives nearby, quotes William Blake, and is homeschooled. Mina and her mother believe that 'The mind needs to be opened out into the world, not shuttered down inside a gloomy classroom.'

As his baby sister's prognosis worsens, Michael shares his secret with Mina and, together, they help Skellig to a safer and higher refuge, and discover something magical about the hump on his back. They share an extraordinary experience with him. When the children ask Skellig who he is, 'Something like you, something like a beast, something like an angel' is the reply.

Skellig is a dark and atmospheric story, through which shines the love and anxiety of a boy for his small newborn sister, the magic of an unfolding friendship, and the enchantment of the unknown. The 10th-Anniversary Edition of this Printz Honor–winning novel includes a new short story about Mina, The Journey into the Archaeopteryx. Mina tells us that it 'began to beat its creaky wings through my dreams' as it will through the reader's, and that 'astonishing discoveries await us all.'

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