Friday, 23 March 2012

Skellig by David Almond

I finished Skellig today. I really enjoy it. It's such an interesting story. I also watched the movie. And of course, I'd have to say I like the book way better than the movie. They really changed the story around in the movie. The book leaves much more to your imagination.

I found myself thinking a lot about Destiny while reading this book. I loved how Michael could feel the baby's heartbeat along with his own. In the story the baby needs heart surgery and when the dad comes home from the hospital he said, "It's over, Michael."

And that was where the chapter ended!

It was suddenly thrust back to that Sunday when I went to the hospital because I hadn't felt movement. The nurse started up the ultra sound machine. She hummed and hawed. Then she called the doctor. He hummed and hawed, and then ....SNAP! He shut off the machine, sat down, and said, "I'm sorry."

I'll never forget it.

Luckily, that wasn't the end of their baby's life. The dad meant the surgery was over. Phew!

I loved all the references to birds, and flying, and love and healing. I'm quite interested to see what the kids in our book club think about this book.

What is Skellig? I wonder if Skellig was imaginary sometimes. Perhaps he was the boy's way of dealing with the stress. Couldn't be though, because his friend saw him too. Could Skellig really fly? Could he really heal? In the movie, just before the "flying incident", Michael gets burned, and while flying, his hand is healed. That's how he figured out that Skellig could do something to help his sister. Besides, his mom saw him too. Or was she dreaming?

So hard to tell!

Check out the cool poster we made at school for book club when we discussed this book:

This website says this about the book:
"Ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, Skellig tells the story of ten-year-old Michael, who is moving with his family into a new house in England. There’s a baby, as yet unnamed, in the family, but she has been in and out of the hospital, hanging tentatively on to life. So besides the normal moving worries, Michael must deal with a loving but preoccupied mother and father who have to focus on taking care of a sick infant.

In the new house’s dilapidated, collapsing garage, Michael stumbles upon an old man, half dead, who the boy secretly begins to feed and care for. Eventually he tells his new neighborhood friend, Mina; she is the only person he trusts with his secret. For Skellig, as the man calls himself, may not be a mortal man at all. At one point, Mina and Michael discover that he has wings—and in a magical scene he takes them flying. Owls also feed Skellig, although he seems to prefer Michael’s Chinese takeout. He mumbles and rants, but he also makes sense at the same time.

The book alternates between the almost dreamlike sequences where Michael deals with Skellig, and the realistic chapters focusing on his school and the baby’s declining health. During the day-to-day events, Mina tells Michael about William Blake. Skellig is just the kind of creature Blake would invent.

Finally, the two parts of the story intertwine, when Michael’s mother dreams of Skellig visiting the baby in the hospital. The baby begins to mend—and Skellig bids farewell to his friends who have brought him back to life.

A book of magical realism, Skellig does not read like any other novel written for children. It explores the healing power of love and a sense of spiritual wonder. Although it can be enjoyed for independent reading, it begs for a book discussion group so that everyone can talk about their own understanding of its contents. My sense of the book changes each time I read it. However the reader experiences Skellig, it remains one of those haunting, amazing novels for children that can be appreciated as much by the adults who find it."


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