Cover image for Heaven Eyes
Heaven Eyes
Almond, David, 1951-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
233 pages ; 22 cm
Having escaped from their orphanage on a raft, Erin, January, and Mouse float down into another world of abandoned warehouses and factories, meeting a strange old man and an even stranger girl with webbed fingers and little memory of her past.
Reading Level:
420 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.4 5.0 48329.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.6 11 Quiz: 24898 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

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A Printz Award-winning Author A Carnegie Medal Nominee A Whitbread Award Nominee Running away from Whitegates is easy. After all, it's not a prison. Erin and her running-away friend, January, do it all the time. This time is different, though. This time they're going down the river -- the dark, deep river with its powerful currents and swirling eddies. They are looking for freedom, sweet freedom, however dangerous the journey. But this journey takes them somewhere they never expected to go. Somewhere they couldn't have known existed. This is an Accelerated Reader(R) Title

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 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. "My name is Erin Law. My friends are January Carr and Mouse Gullane. This is the story of what happened when we sailed away from Whitegates that Friday night." So begins this bizarre yet beautiful odyssey that takes Erin, January, and Mouse away from the home for "damaged" children where they live, across the River Tyne, and into the Black Middens, an area of dilapidated, abandoned buildings; small, scurrying animals; and a thick, suffocating mud that holds many secrets. It is also where Erin, January, and Mouse find Heaven Eyes. Pulled from the mud as a toddler by "Grandpa," the now-deranged watchman of a forgotten warehouse, Heaven Eyes is a dreamy, childlike creature who speaks in a syntax that is as much music as speech. Erin, January, and Mouse each become absorbed in this surreal existence in different ways, and with profound effect. Like Skellig (1999) and Kit's Wilderness [BKL Ja 1 & 15 00], this is the sort of book that is almost impossible to categorize. Allegory? Fantasy? Certainly Almond is one of the foremost practitioners in children's literature of magical realism. Yet when it comes to the emotions the story contains, no book could be more true. Erin's heart-wrenching description of her mother's death is more haunting than any of the story's fantastic events. Not every element works: sometimes ends that should have been left unraveled are too tightly tied. But, as with Almond's other books, this is tremendously ambitious and in almost every way successful. As gritty as the mud of the Middens, as pure as the blue of Heaven's eyes, this is a novel that will linger. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers spellbound by the intriguing characters and surrealistic flavor of Almond's previous works will be eager to dive into the murky waters of this third novel, set in a riverside orphanage. Erin Law, one of the "damaged" orphan children residing at Whitegates, eloquently recounts her earliest happy memories of her mother and the way the woman's voice and touch have remained with her. One day, Erin sets out on a remarkable adventure-cum-rescue mission, with fellow orphan friends January and Mouse on a homemade raft. ("Some people will tell you that none of these things happened. They'll say they were just a dream that the three of us shared.") Their vessel gets stuck in the mire on the Black Middens, a muddy sinkhole of a place every bit as haunting and surreal as the hideout in Skellig or the abandoned mines of Kit's Wilderness. The children discover two strangers who live alongside the Middens in a dilapidated settlement: Heaven Eyes, a ghostlike girl with webbed hands (so named because "her lovely eyes... saw through all the trouble in the world to the heaven that lies beneath"), and "Grampa," her ancient caretaker. Here the children slowly unravel mysteries about the crumbling town, its muddy banks holding many treasures and the tragic history of Heaven Eyes. Possessing a rare understanding of human frailties, impulses, desires and fears, the author boldly explores the gray area between reality and imagination, and the need to construct one's own legends in order to survive. His tantalizing settings and poetic narrative have a lingering effect, much like a prophetic dream. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Welcome to the surreal world of David Almond and his haunting novel (Delacorte, 2001) about three orphans who run away from Whitegates, a home for "damaged" children. Fleeing down the Ouseburn River on a homemade raft fashioned from old doors, Erin Law, January Carr, and Mouse Gulane land on the Black Middens, a mud bank not far from where they began their journey. There they find Heaven Eyes, a strange girl with webbed feet and hands, who speaks pidgin English and lives in a derelict building with her mysterious and somewhat menacing caretaker named Grandpa. He and Heaven Eyes show Erin and her friends how to dig in the black mud, for "there is secrets and there is treasures and there is saints waiting to be found." The three runaways are captivated by Heaven Eyes, whose childlike innocence is a novelty. In his third children's book, Almond has written a tale as dark and deep as the river flowing through it. The narration by actress Amanda Plummer is a double treat. Her pacing is carefully measured to perfection, and the story is delivered in a soothing brogue. Those comfortable with ambiguous settings, ethereal characters, powerful themes, and strong imagery will be delighted.-Celeste Steward, Contra Costa County Library, Clayton, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Middle of the World She started with The Universe. Then she wrote The Galaxy, The Solar System, The Earth, Europe, England, Felling, Our House, The Kitchen, The White Chair With A Hundred Holes Like Stars, then her name, Margaret, and she paused. "What's in the middle of me?" she asked. "Your heart," said Mary. She wrote My Heart. "In the middle of that?" "Your soul," said Catherine. She wrote My Soul. Mam reached down and lifted the front of Margaret's T-shirt and prodded her navel. "That's where your middle is," she said. "That's where you were part of me." Margaret drew a row of stick figures, then drew concentric rings growing out from each of them. "Where's the real middle of the world?" she said. "They used to think the Mediterranean," said Catherine. "Medi means middle. Terra means world. The sea at the middle of the world." Margaret drew a blue sea with a green earth around it. "There was another sea at the edges," said Catherine. "It was filled with monsters and it went right to the end of the world. If you got that far, you just fell off." Margaret drew this sea. She put fangs and fins for monsters. "There's no end, really, is there?" she said. "No," said Catherine. "And there's no middle, is there?" Catherine laughed. "Not really." Mam prodded Margaret's navel again. "That's the middle of the world," she said. Later that day we went to the grave. Colin rushed home from Reyrolle's on his Vespa for lunch. He bolted his food and rattled away again. We heard the scooter taking him on to Felling Bank and down toward the square. When it faded, Mary said, "Should we go to the grave today?" We hadn't been for months. We thought of the dead being in Heaven rather than being in the earth. "Good idea," said Mam. "I'll make some bara brith for when you get home." We were on the rocky path at the foot of the street when Dandy ran after us. He was a little black poodle that was never clipped and had horrible breath. "Go home!" said Mary. "Dandy, go home!" He yapped and growled and whined. "Dandy, go home!" No good. We just had to let him trot along beside us. Margaret fiddled with her navel as she walked. "When I started," she said, "what was I like?" "What do you think you were like?" said Mary. "Like a gorilla? You were very very very little. You were that little, you couldn't even be seen. You were that little, nobody even knew you were blinkin there!" "Daft dog," said Catherine, as Dandy ran madly through a clump of foxgloves and jumped at bees. Soon we saw Auntie Jan and Auntie Mona ahead of us. They wore head scarves and carried shopping bags on their arms. "Bet you can't tell which is which," said Mary. "Even when they're talking to me I can't tell which is which," said Margaret. The two aunts hurried into Ell Dene Crescent. "Did they look the same when nobody knew they were there?" said Margaret. "Of course they did!" said Mary. "Everybody looks the same when they can't be blinkin seen!" The aunts waved and grinned and we all waved and Dandy yapped and then they hurried on again down into Ell Dene Crescent. Mary picked daisies from the verges as we walked. She said, "Dad once said that daisies were the best of all flowers. I think I remember that." "You do," said Catherine. "You do remember. He called them day's eyes. Awake in the day and closed asleep at night." Further on, Daft Peter lay in his greatcoat under a tree on The Drive. "Not him!" said Catherine. "We'll never get away from him!" We sat on a bench on Watermill Lane. "How far is it?" said Margaret. "You know how far," said Mary. "Nowhere's far in Felling," said Catherine. We watched Daft Peter. "Move," said Catherine. "Go on. Move." "Is Felling very small?" said Margaret. Mary stamped her feet. "Yes," said Catherine. "Is it the smallest place in the world?" "Is this Daft Question Day?" said Mary. "Yes!" said Margaret. "It's very small," said Catherine. "But there's smaller places." "Where?" "Places in the desert," said Mary. "Rings of huts in the jungle. Villages in the Himalayas." "Yes," said Catherine. "And places like Hebburn or Seaton Sluice." "Not Seaton Sluice," said Mary. "It's got that big beach. It's got to be bigger than Felling. And Hebburn's got that big new shopping center." Catherine sighed. "Windy Nook, then," she said. "That's not fair," said Mary. "Windy Nook's a part of somewhere else." "Where, then? And make it somewhere we know." "Bill Quay," said Mary. No one said anything, even though we all knew Bill Quay was part of somewhere else as well. "Thank goodness," said Catherine. "Bill Quay." Daft Peter didn't move. In the end, we walked on. Dandy snarled as we drew nearer to the man. "Dandy!" said Catherine. Daft Peter smiled and rubbed his eyes. "Here's me thought I was dreamin," he said. "And all the time I'm just wakin up." He leaned against the tree. "What would ye say if I knew how to turn swimmin fish into flyin fowl?" he said. "Take no notice," whispered Catherine. "Not much at all, I see," said Peter. "But what if I said I could take you girls and show you how to fly aroond this tree." "I'd say you couldn't!" said Mary. "Aha!" said Peter. "Just let me look inside this bag, then." He dug into a brown bag. He took out a sandwich, something bright red and black hanging out of two dried-out slices of bread. He held it out to Mary as we approached. "Take a bite of that," he said. "Go on, take a bite of that and see." Dandy jumped up at him, barking and snarling. Daft Peter flailed and kicked and the sandwich flew into the road. "Daft dog!" he shouted. "Look what ye've done to me dinna!" We hurried past. "What would ye say if I turned a daft dog into a nice meat pie?" yelled Peter. "I'd say it would be very hairy and it would stink!" said Mary. Excerpted from Heaven Eyes 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.