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Book review: Skellig by David Almond

Books can arrive on my bedside table for many reasons – they might have been recommended by a friend, been written by an author I admire, or in the case of Skellig, be on my son’s school reading list.

Although Skellig is somewhat of a classic novel, I had never heard of it, so reading it was a nice surprise.

Skellig tells the story of a boy whose family is trying to cope with the premature arrival of a baby girl, and the baby’s subsequent ill-health.

The early arrival meant that they had not had the opportunity to repair their new house.

It is under these circumstances that the boy makes an unexpected discovery in the family’s rickety and dilapidated shed.

I don’t want to give much more away, other than to say that this discovery is strange and moving, and provides the boy with a welcome focus during a time when he would otherwise be worried about the health of his sister.

I enjoyed the childish perspective of the novel, and the way it wove in some of the everyday struggles and realities of the school yard, the dynamic between worried and distracted parents and their child, and the fantastical elements of the story.

I really enjoyed the way the book straddled reality and a kind of fantasy, never really breaking the spell between the two.

One of my friends thought that the story was a bit grim for Year 7 students, but I didn’t agree. I felt it was uplifting and quite beautiful.

I’m pleased this story happened to find itself on my bookshelf in this way and I’ll be looking forward to reading my son’s interpretation of the novel.


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