Skellig is a children’s novel by the British author David Almond, first published by Hodder in 1998. It won the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year as well as the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s outstanding children’s book by a British author. Since its publication, it has also been adapted into a play, an opera, and a film.
The writer, David Almond, has provided some public answers to frequent questions, asked of him, during his school visits. He has answered that:
- The book is set in his house and his garage. When his family moved here, the garage was in the same condition as the garage in the book, and there really was a toilet in the dining room.
- As a boy he had a baby sister.
- He learned from his mother that shoulder blades are where our wings used to be, when we were angels.
- While he was writing the book he didn’t know what Michael (the main character) would find in the garage.
- As of 2012, he claims he doesn’t yet know what Skellig is.
Skellig is deliberately ambiguous about its title character. The implication is that he is some kind of angel is obvious, however his general manner and attitude differ greatly from traditional ideas about angels. This leads the reader to consider ideas of religious imagery and the role of mysteries in life.
The story itself deals with Michael’s sister, who was born prematurely, and the events that follow afterwards. Michael worries for the baby and in the process, moves house and makes friends with home-schooled Mina. One day he finds a strange man in his garage, a man who eats flies and has a liking for Chinese food and ginger ale. The man is a special creature, and one that can help Michael and his family more than he ever thought possible.
I found it to be a unique, different novel. It is a well written, moody story that can have strong emotional appeal for avid readers. A book that leaves ones imagination open to thoughts about life itself, both in the mystical and factual sense.
Let me know what you think!