By Ben and Maureen, 3 October 2021
As the summer winds down, Ben and I read a thought-provoking, middle-grade novel that neither of us have read before. Skellig, by the prolific British author, David Almond, has been on my To Be Read list for some time now. I ask Ben – now a newly-minted 11-year-old – what he thinks of it.
M: What is Skellig about?
B: It’s about a boy called Michael and him and his family have just moved to a new house, ummm, and Michael’s baby sister is sick, and always needs to go to the hospital for check-ups and things like that, and ummm, he and his dad stay home to work on the house to get it ready for the baby, and one day he meets this man in the garage called Skellig …
M: No spoilers right?
B: Oh yeah, OK, I’ll try not to. And … this man has been there for a long time, and the garage is really rickety and is about to fall down, so Michael tries to get Skellig out but he refuses to leave, he just wants to stay there.
M: What’s odd about Skellig?
B: He has humps on his back, like a camel …
M: Ahhh. But they aren’t humps, are they?
B: They aren’t, but I can’t say anything more as it’s a spoiler.
M: OK then. So is the book about Michael’s relationship with Skellig then?
B: Kinda, but it’s also about Michael and the baby, and his friend called Mina who lives in the neighbourhood. She knows about Skellig as well.
M: What’s Mina like?
B: She doesn’t go to school because she’s homeschooled. She likes birds and art and always climbs trees, which is why Michael’s friends call her ‘monkey girl.’
M: What sort of book is this? It’s not like a comic or a laugh-out-loud kind of book like Tom Gates, is it?
B: Hmmm. I don’t really know. It’s an interesting story though, and well-written. The book also talks about fledgling birds, like baby birds. I’d want to see those.
M: Who is your favourite character in the book, if you had to pick one?
B: I think Michael. He’s kind of like me because he likes soccer, he’s caring because he wants to save Skellig and his sister, and he’s helpful because he helps his dad clean and renovate the house.
M: That’s like you? When do you clean?
B: Well, I mopped the floor multiple times, and I’ve wiped the windows and cockroach guts off the wall …
M: OK, that’s fine, so you’ve helped clean the house before. Would you recommend this book to your friends?
B: Yes. [pause] Can you help me pull out this piece? [handing me some Lego]
M: Thanks Ben.
For ages 10 and up.