Do you have a place where you stash your stuff? A junk drawer? Your closet? Under your bed? Are there so many odds and ends shoved inside that you can no longer remember what’s been squirreled away? What about the garage? Is it filled with old doohickeys, broken lamps, rolled up rugs, rusting tools and whatnots? Do you hear something scuttle in the dark every time you open the door? Are you afraid of and fascinated by this place? Will you grab your flashlight, push your way through the cobwebs and your fears to discover what’s inside?
That’s what ten-year-old Michael does when his Mum and Dad buy an old fixer upper on the other side of town. The place is a mess and the detached garage is threatening to tumble down. Michael’s parents are preoccupied with his baby sister who is sick and may even die. Michael feels helpless. He wanders outside and peers into the garage. Despite the quivering walls and his parents’ warnings of danger, Michael steps inside, picks his way through old tea chests and bureaus and finds a black-suited creature covered in dust and cobwebs and bugs. “What is he?” Michael wonders. A man? An owl? An angel?
“It was as if he’d been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d soon begin to see the truth about him, that there’d never been another creature like him in the world.”
His name is Skellig. He eats flies and spiders and mice and complains about Arthur Itis. He belches and his downright cranky. Michael worries that Skellig will be crushed if the roof of the crumbling garage falls down. But Skellig is too weak to move; too weak to care. With the help of his new friend Mina, Michael tries to save Skellig with Chinese take-out and brown ale, “sweetest of nectars—food of the gods,” cod liver oil and aspirin.
Michael wonders about the strange lumps under Skellig’s filthy over coat. Michael’s Mum says people used to have wings attached to the shoulder blades. Perhaps they will again.
“They say that shoulder blades are where your wings were, when you were an angel,” she said. “They say they’re where your wings will grow again one day.”
Michael asks Skellig if there is anything he can do for his baby sister. Skellig scoffs, “Babies! Spittle, muck, spew and tears.”
Can Michael and Mina rescue Skellig? And will Skellig save Michael’s baby sister in return? Read David Almond’s Prinz Honor Award book, Skellig, to find out.
And don’t forget your flashlight. Just in case.
Book review by Lisa Slage Robinson