One of my great frustrations is that I seem incapable of writing a short book, and that books intended to be about one thing often end up running away to be about quite another. (This last is not uncommon, I know!) On both counts I am profoundly envious and lost in admiration for Skellig by David Almond.
This is a short book, at 170 odd pages, but it contains multitudes. The story is deceptively simple – about a boy discovering a mysterious visitor in the garage of his new home – but manages to be many great middle grade genres in one succinct, effortless and uplifting tale. It has the relevance of social realism but also the escapism of fantasy. It is visionary but also a compelling adventure mystery. I challenge anyone to read it and not be profoundly moved but the story throughout is leavened with wit and joy. And for extra bonus points, it is set in my beloved North East. Just who Skellig is remains ambiguous but what is never in any doubt, as in much great fiction, is the power of miracles.
Skellig (978-0-3409-4495-0) by David Almond is published by Hodder Children’s Books, £7.99 pbk.