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Skellig by David Almond

2Q-2P (ages 12-14)
Almond, David. Skellig. New York: Delacorte Press, 1998. 182 pages.

When Michael’s family moves into a new house, he is anxious to explore the dilapidated garage that sits next to the house. Because Michael’s baby sister is fighting to survive, his parents are frequently absent from his life; however, Michael never resents his baby sister. In his first exploration of the garage, Michael stumbles upon a strange creature that seems to be neither man nor animal. On subsequent visits, both with and without his newfound friend Mina, Michael discovers bits and pieces of Skellig’s life. After Skellig’s wings unfurl, it becomes clear that Skellig could be an angel, and when he seems to save Michael’s baby sister’s life, Michael and Mina are convinced that he was more than just a man.

Even though Skellig won a Printz Honor, it seemed to be geared toward a much younger audience. There seems to be little character development and, because I never knew what exactly was wrong with Michael’s baby sister, I was not inclined to care about her illness or her survival; she seemed to be an appendage to the story even if she did play a rather defining role near the end. Mina seems to be a rather unrealistic character, as she is approximately 11 to 12 years old and is reciting William Blake and drawing bizarre characters; many teens will not be able to relate to her character because her behaviors are so far removed from typical teen behaviors. Skellig also leaves too many questions unanswered; while some open-endedness is good because it allows for introspection, it just seemed that Skellig left too many convenient plot holes and that Almond wanted to end the book quickly.

Skellig’s cover features a drawing of a hunched over man surrounded by an owl and two children (a boy and a girl). Because the children do not appear to be teens and look rather young, teens will probably pass the book by, believing the book to be a juvenile fiction book that was misshelved.
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