by David Almond
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Reading level: MG
Book type: prose novel
Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. But now his baby sister is ill, his parents are frantic, and Doctor Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then he steps into the crumbling garage and encounters a strange being who changes his world forever.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
On the surface, this is a short middle-grade contemporary fantasy about a boy who discovers something extraordinary in a dilapidated garage. But I suspect that this book is deeper than outward appearances would suggest. It's about evolution, about being aware of the little things that we don't always notice, and about how love and connection have the power to heal. And all of that in a thin volume that you can probably read in an afternoon...
Since the book is so short and the plot is so straightforward, I don't really want to say too much about it for fear of giving anything away. But I did really enjoy it. The writing was spare and made an interesting use of repetition. I liked Michael, the main character, and his friend Mina brought some interesting tidbits into the story. She's homeschooled and her current obsession is things that fly, so we learn plenty about birds. There are also numerous references to the works of William Blake. Skellig was an interesting character, too, though I wish that he hadn't remained so much of a mystery. We never do find out how he ended up in Michael's father's garage in the first place.
I'm not sure if all the kids who've had to read this book in school would agree with me, but as an adult who read the book simply for enjoyment, I have to say that it was pretty good. Fans of paranormal or contemporary fantasy will probably enjoy this one.
Overall: 4.29 out of 5