Book Review by Debbie Winkler
Author: David Almond
Publisher: Yearling (September 2000)
ISBN: 0440416027, EAN: 9780440416029
Page Count: 192 pages
Target Age Group: children ages 9 – 12
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Michael hadn’t really wanted to move to the creepy old house on Falconer Road, but his parents were determined to have more space for their growing family. The real estate agent had somehow convinced his parents that the old house was a real fixer upper and so Michael, instead of spending all day playing soccer with his friends, Leakey & Coot, was helping clear the garden and work on the house. He knew that his parents were really worried about his new baby sister, who was born early and was not doing very well. She was allowed to come home from the hospital, but had to return when she had trouble breathing. His mom and dad could think of nothing but the baby and Michael was left to his own devices.
His parents warned him not to go into the rickety old garage left standing on the property, but Michael couldn’t resist exploring. What he found in the old garage astounded him – he found a kind of man in the corner. The man didn’t seem to be able to carry on a normal conversation and Michael wasn’t sure what to do, but he brought him food and tried to talk to him. Michael also made friends with Mina, the independent and free spirited girl who lived next door. Mina was different than anyone else that Michael had ever known and he wasn’t sure that was necessarily a good thing. But Michael needed to know that he wasn’t going crazy, so he showed the man to Mina. Between Mina and Michael, they were able to give Skellig, the strangely winged man, a new chance at life and to change their own lives forever.
This was a fascinating book. It is very different from most other children’s books and did a superb job at conveying Michael’s feelings of loneliness and alienation by the way that he described things in the story. It was interesting to get to know Michael as he progressed from being worried about how the move affected his life to worrying about his new baby sister and whether she would ever be able to come home. Skellig was a very different character and the reader never really does learn what or who he is. It is like real life in that way, mysteries are not always solved and life is colored in shades of gray. This is a great book for discussion with children or something that adults will enjoy reading on their own and thinking about.
There are some scenes that are a bit scary due to the descriptions and the mental build-up. Basically I am saying that you kind of scare yourself in some scenes as the book really isn’t that scary. The book does deal with a kind of humanoid creature and leaves a lot of questions unanswered so it will not appeal to everyone. Recommended for readers ages 8 and up.