“Skellig” by David Almond, #printzproject

It’s a three day weekend, which means plenty of time to read. And think. I’m reading the Michael L. Printz Award winners and honor books, starting with the year 2000. The award honors books written for teens, based “entirely on…literary merit.” Yesterday’s post was about Monster, the story of a young man on trial as an accessory to murder. The next book on the list is a very different book.

I had never even heard of David Almond before looking at the complete list, let alone his unusual little book called Skellig. I’m trying to avoid reading what other people think before I actually read the books myself, so I went in to this a little blind. Now that I’ve read it, I’m not entirely sure what I think of it, though. I knew from the cover copy that it was of a fantastical nature, but since it was part of the Printz awards, I was expecting it to be more of a teen book. It read much younger (and while I couldn’t find it in the text, I’m under the impression from other reviews and synopses that the main character was 10.)

My dilemma is that I was reading it expecting YA, and got what I felt like was Middle Grade. It took me awhile, as I was reading it, to mentally adjust, and once I did so, I enjoyed the book a lot more. I even cried a bit in a few spots. It was a very sweet story and beautifully written. It was refreshing to read a story with absent parents who weren’t absent because they were dead or neglectful.

I’m still stuck, though, and I acknowledge that this isn’t fair to the book itself, on the idea that this was picked as one of the best books for TEENS in the year 2000. 5th and 6th graders aren’t teenagers. Maybe some of our junior high kids would like this, but I’m not sold on the idea that it was a top teen book.

As I’ve said in a previous post, my blog posts about this project aren’t meant to be proper reviews, just me thinking out loud a bit, mostly to myself. Skellig was, as I said, a sweet story, and while I enjoyed reading it, I was a little underwhelmed. Looking ahead, I see that David Almond’s book Kit’s Wilderness was the top award winner in 2001, so it’ll be interesting to see what I think when I get to that set of books.