Skellig by David Almond
Michael, his parents and ill baby sister are living in an old house that needs a lot of fixing up - especially the garage which might fall down at any moment. When Michael wanders into the garage one day to investigate, he finds a frail man sitting near the back who has a craving for Chinese food and aspirin. Michael is shocked and needs to show his new friend, Mina, to make sure the man is real and not just a dream. Michael can hardly believe what happens next.
Skellig was wonderful. It had been on my "to read" list for months, ever since I saw the evocative cover and noted its Printz Honor sticker (always a positive sign). I did not, however, imagine that it would be such a lovely story that delicately balances the very real (Michael's sick baby sister) and the very magical (Skellig). The author also manages to make the very real very magical, notably watching the birds through Mina's eyes. Michael's reactions to the events happening around him were superb and, I think, quite realistic for a 10-year-old boy. Ultimately, to paraphrase Michael's father, this was "a blinking good book."
5 stars out of 5 for Skellig.