Cover image for Skellig
Almond, David, 1951-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
182 pages ; 22 cm
Unhappy about his baby sister's illness and the chaos of moving into a dilapidated old house, Michael retreats to the garage and finds a mysterious stranger who is something like a bird and something like an angel.
General Note:
"First published in Great Britain"--verso t.p.
Reading Level:
490 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG+ 3.5 4.0 28292.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.1 8 Quiz: 19221.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Reading List

On Order



David Almond's Printz Honor--winning novel is a captivating modern classic.

Ten-year-old Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage. . . . What is this thing beneath the spiderwebs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never before seen? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend, Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael's world changes forever. . . .

Author Notes

David Almond was born on May 15, 1951 in the United Kingdom. He writes novels for children and young adults including The Savage, Slog's Dad, My Name Is Mina, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, and The Tightrope Walkers. He has received numerous awards including the Carnegie Medal for Skellig, two Whitbread Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult books for Kit's Wilderness, the Smarties Prize and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for The Fire-Eaters, the 2015 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for A Song for Ella Grey, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Who is Skellig? Or, more correctly, what? When Michael discovers the ragged, dusty man existing on dead flies in the garage, he is shocked. But the riddle of Skellig must compete with Michael's constant worry about his baby sister, who can't seem to get well. British writer Almond, in his first book for young people, weaves a story that is part mystery, part dream, part anxious everyday life. Michael, who has moved to a new house that is sadly in need of repair, finds friendship with a girl next door, with whom he shares the secret of Skellig. It is Mina, with her authoritative knowledge of birds, who shows Michael the secret lives of owls and other birds in the area. The children's discovery that Skellig, too, has wings growing from his shoulder blades, though an extraordinary revelation, seems quite fitting as the children embark on the difficult mission of keeping Skellig alive. In many ways, this novel raises more questions than it answers. Readers are not given any definitive answers about who Skellig is, and this may bother younger readers who have the skill to read the book without the sophistication of knowing how to plumb for its deeper meanings. Accomplished readers, however, will find this an amazing work. Some of the writing takes one's breath away, especially the scenes in which Almond, without flinching, describes the beauty and the horror that is Skellig. Almond is also wise enough to root the plot in the family's reaction to baby Joy's illness, thus keeping the story earthbound where it needs to be before it soars and flies away. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

British novelist Almond makes a triumphant debut in the field of children's literature with prose that is at once eerie, magical and poignant. Broken down into 46 succinct, eloquent chapters, the story begins in medias res with narrator Michael recounting his discovery of a mysterious stranger living in an old shed on the rundown property the boy's family has just purchased: "He was lying there in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he'd been there forever.... I'd soon begin to see the truth about him, that there'd never been another creature like him in the world." With that first description of Skellig, the author creates a tantalizing tension between the dank and dusty here-and-now and an aura of other-worldliness that permeates the rest of the novel. The magnetism of Skellig's ethereal world grows markedly stronger when Michael, brushing his hand across Skellig's back, detects what appears to be a pair of wings. Soon after Michael's discovery in the shed, he meets his new neighbor, Mina, a home-schooled girl with a passion for William Blake's poetry and an imagination as large as her vast knowledge of birds. Unable to take his mind off Skellig, Michael is temporarily distracted from other pressing concerns about his new surroundings, his gravely ill baby sister and his parents. Determined to nurse Skellig back to health, Michael enlists Mina's help. Besides providing Skellig with more comfortable accommodations and nourishing food, the two children offer him companionship. In response, Skellig undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis that profoundly affects the narrator's (and audience members') first impression of the curious creature, and opens the way to an examination of the subtle line between life and death. The author adroitly interconnects the threads of the story‘Michael's difficult adjustment to a new neighborhood, his growing friendship with Mina, the baby's decline‘to Skellig, whose history and reason for being are open to readers' interpretations. Although some foreshadowing suggests that Skellig has been sent to Earth on a grim mission, the dark, almost gothic tone of the story brightens dramatically as Michael's loving, life-affirming spirit begins to work miracles. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-Two lonely children form a bond when they secretly take on the care of a crusty, otherworldly old man living in a ramshackled garage. A mystical story of love and friendship. (Feb.) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9‘Exploring a tumbling-down shed on the property his family has just bought, Michael finds Skellig, an ailing, mysterious being who is suffering from arthritis, but who still relishes Chinese food and brown ale. Michael also meets his neighbor Mina, a homeschooled girl. When she's not trying to open his eyes and ears to the world around him, she is spouting William Blake. As Michael begins nursing Skellig back to health, he realizes that there is something odd about his shoulders. Together, he and Mina move Skellig to a safe place, release the wings they find on his back from his jacket, and look after him until he eventually moves on. Throughout the story, readers share Michael's overriding concern for his infant sister, who is gravely ill. In the end, little Joy comes home from the hospital safe and happy and Michael's life has been greatly enriched by his experiences with her, Skellig, and Mina. The plot is beautifully paced and the characters are drawn with a graceful, careful hand. Mina, for all her smugness, is charmingly wide-eyed over Skellig. Michael is a bruising soccer player but displays a tenderness that is quite touching and very refreshing. Even minor characters are well defined. The plot pivots on the question of what Skellig is. It is a question that will keep readers moving through the book, trying to make sense of the cleverly doled out clues. The beauty here is that there is no answer and readers will be left to wonder and debate, and make up their own minds. A lovingly done, thought-provoking novel.‘Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Something little and black scuttled across the floor. The door creaked and cracked for a moment before it was still. Dust poured through the flashlight beam. Something scratched and scratched in a corner. I tiptoed further in and felt spiderwebs breaking on my brow. Everything was packed in tight--ancient furniture, kitchen units, rolled-up carpets, pipes and crates and planks. I kept ducking down under the hoses and ropes and duffel bags that hung from the roof. More cobwebs snapped on my clothes and skin. The floor was broken and crumbly. I opened a cupboard an inch, shined the flashlight in, and saw a million woodlice scattering away. I peered down into a great stone jar and saw the bones of some little animal that had died in there. Dead bluebottles were everywhere. There were ancient newspapers and magazines. I shined the flashlight onto one and saw that it came from nearly fifty years ago. I moved so carefully. I was scared every moment that the whole thing was going to collapse. There was dust clogging my throat and nose. I knew they'd be yelling for me soon and I knew I'd better get out. I leaned across a heap of tea chests and shined the torch into the space behind and that's when I saw him. I thought he was dead. He was sitting with his legs stretched out and his head tipped back against the wall. He was covered in dust and webs like everything else and his face was thin and pale. Dead bluebottles were scattered on his hair and shoulders. I shined the flashlight on his white face and his black suit. "What do you want?" he said. He opened his eyes and looked up at me. His voice squeaked like he hadn't used it in years. "What do you want?" My heart thudded and thundered. "I said, what do you want?" Excerpted from Skellig by David Almond All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.