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1001 Skellig
Added on 09th August 2020

Author David Almond
First published 1998
Publisher Hodder

Michael finds a strange and wonderful creature in the garage who needs his help to survive.

Story

Just as 10-year-old Michael and his family move house, his baby sister is born early and is dangerously unwell. Michael feels anxious and alone. One afternoon he finds a thin, tattered creature among the rubbish in the garage - part-owl, part-human, part-angel - a sad and strange being who needs help to survive. With his new friend Mina, Michael nurses the arthritic and demanding creature back to health with a diet of live spiders, Chinese takeaways and brown ale. He learns that human shoulder blades are the remnants of angel wings and that Skellig can change Michael’s life for ever.

Why we chose it

Skellig is a poetic and mysterious tale of love and friendship that established David Almond’s reputation as one of our greatest storytellers. After 15 years of writing short stories for adults, Skellig was Almond’s first young adult novel. It won the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Book Award.

Almond went on to win the Hans Christian Andersen award for his contribution to children’s literature and his books have sold over a million copies.

Where it came from

David Almond grew up in Gateshead and always wanted to be a writer. After working as a teacher, he moved into a commune to focus on his writing.

When asked about the inspirations for Skellig, Almond mentions the death of his sister when he was 7, and that his mother had told him that “shoulder blades are where our wings used to be, when we were angels”. Skellig is set in his house and garage, which used to be as derelict as those in the story. Skellig and Michael are the names of Irish islands. The idea of a sick old man living off spiders in a garage came to Almond one day as he was walking down the street, so he rushed home to write.

Where it went next

Skellig is often studied in secondary schools, and has been adapted as a play, opera and film.

Associated stories

Fans of Skellig may also enjoy the prequel, My Name is Mina.

David Almond has written a number of books for both children and young adults.

His books for younger children include My Dad's a Birdman, Harry Miller's Run, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon and The Savage.

For young adults his books include The Story of Ella Grey, Jackdaw Summer Kit’s Wilderness, Clay, Heaven Eyes, Slog's Dad and The Colour of the Sun.

He has also published Half a Creature From the Sea and Counting Stars, two anthologies of stories about his childhood, growing up in Felling on Tyne

Added on 09th August 2020

Author David Almond
First published 1998
Publisher Hodder