This book was one of the most-recommended for children’s book authors to read when I went to the workshop which changed my life in 2011. I came away from the workshop and went into self-publishing, and I thoroughly enjoy it. The reason the book came up in recommendation was as a response to a panel question – what books do you recommend children’s authors read? It’s taken a while for me to get around to it, but I’m glad I did.
In some ways I have a feeling I’ve read it before, or maybe I’ve seen an adaptation, since I have a clear mental picture of John Hurt as Skellig. Whether that’s true or not I haven’t checked.
Our hero is Michael, who is pretty mixed up since his parents have just bought a dilapidated house on the other side of town, and then the baby came early and she’s in and out of hospital… He’s cut off from his friends at his old school because he’s allowed off school through stress though anxiety for the baby and everything else … it’s all happening for him. He discovers a strange creature in their garage (that should be condemned, since it’s touch and go whether it will fall down before he next goes in it). The creature seems to live on mice, aspirin and Chinese takeaways if Michael will bring him some. Our hero meets Mina, a girl next door who home schools and does some pretty amazing, but non-standard, things, and particularly likes listening for the tiny sounds baby birds make in their nest.
It’s beautifully written, and I particularly noted the sentence structure which must make it great for reluctant readers. It’s a story about family and school and things that go bump in the night, and getting up to hoot like an owl before sunrise. It’s also about the nature of the universe and the way we communicate and there are all sorts of interesting things to be found out.
There are extraordinary and beautiful things that happen, and some weird ones too. It’s a must read for anyone with the slightest imagination or believes that strange things can be good too.
I’m really pleased I read it, and it’s definitely a five-star rating from me.
I bought this with that legendary book token that took me into a real bookshop towards the end of 2013. I blogged about it at the time. Not sure what took me so long to read it, except too many ebooks to get through.