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  • Heaven Eyes
  • Written by David Almond
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440229100
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  • Heaven Eyes
  • Written by David Almond
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307565792
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Heaven Eyes

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Written by David AlmondAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Almond

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List Price: $7.99

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On Sale: June 03, 2009
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-0-307-56579-2
Published by : Laurel Leaf RH Childrens Books
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READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Erin Law and her friends are Damaged Children. At least that is the label given to them by Maureen, the woman who runs the orphanage that they live in. Damaged, Beyond Repair because they have no parents to take care of them. But Erin knows that if they care for each other they can put up with the psychologists, the social workers, the therapists -- at least most of the time. Sometimes there is nothing left but to run away, to run for freedom. And that is what Erin and two friends do, run away one night downriver on a raft. What they find on their journey is stranger than you can imagine, maybe, and you might not think it's true. But Erin will tell you it is all true. And the proof is a girl named Heaven Eyes, who sees through all the darkness in the world to the joy that lies beneath.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

The Middle of the World

She started with The Universe. Then she wrote The Galaxy, The Solar System, The Earth, Europe, England, Felling, Our House, The Kitchen, The White Chair With A Hundred Holes Like Stars, then her name, Margaret, and she paused.

"What's in the middle of me?" she asked.

"Your heart," said Mary.

She wrote My Heart.

"In the middle of that?"

"Your soul," said Catherine.

She wrote My Soul.

Mam reached down and lifted the front of Margaret's T-shirt and prodded her navel.

"That's where your middle is," she said. "That's where you were part of me."

Margaret drew a row of stick figures, then drew concentric rings growing out from each of them.

"Where's the real middle of the world?" she said.

"They used to think the Mediterranean," said Catherine. "Medi means middle. Terra means world. The sea at the middle of the world."

Margaret drew a blue sea with a green earth around it.

"There was another sea at the edges," said Catherine. "It was filled with monsters and it went right to the end of the world. If you got that far, you just fell off."

Margaret drew this sea. She put fangs and fins for monsters.

"There's no end, really, is there?" she said.

"No," said Catherine.

"And there's no middle, is there?"

Catherine laughed.

"Not really."

Mam prodded Margaret's navel again.

"That's the middle of the world," she said.

Later that day we went to the grave. Colin rushed home from Reyrolle's on his Vespa for lunch. He bolted his food and rattled away again. We heard the scooter taking him on to Felling Bank and down toward the square.

When it faded, Mary said,

"Should we go to the grave today?"

We hadn't been for months. We thought of the dead being in Heaven rather than being in the earth.

"Good idea," said Mam. "I'll make some bara brith for when you get home."

We were on the rocky path at the foot of the street when Dandy ran after us. He was a little black poodle that was never clipped and had horrible breath.

"Go home!" said Mary. "Dandy, go home!"

He yapped and growled and whined.

"Dandy, go home!"

No good. We just had to let him trot along beside us.

Margaret fiddled with her navel as she walked.

"When I started," she said, "what was I like?"

"What do you think you were like?" said Mary. "Like a gorilla? You were very very very little. You were that little, you couldn't even be seen. You were that little, nobody even knew you were blinkin there!"

"Daft dog," said Catherine, as Dandy ran madly through a clump of foxgloves and jumped at bees.

Soon we saw Auntie Jan and Auntie Mona ahead of us. They wore head scarves and carried shopping bags on their arms.

"Bet you can't tell which is which," said Mary.

"Even when they're talking to me I can't tell which is which," said Margaret.

The two aunts hurried into Ell Dene Crescent.

"Did they look the same when nobody knew they were there?" said Margaret.

"Of course they did!" said Mary. "Everybody looks the same when they can't be blinkin seen!"

The aunts waved and grinned and we all waved and Dandy yapped and then they hurried on again down into Ell Dene Crescent.

Mary picked daisies from the verges as we walked.

She said, "Dad once said that daisies were the best of all flowers. I think I remember that."

"You do," said Catherine. "You do remember. He called them day's eyes. Awake in the day and closed asleep at night."

Further on, Daft Peter lay in his greatcoat under a tree on The Drive.

"Not him!" said Catherine. "We'll never get away from him!"

We sat on a bench on Watermill Lane.

"How far is it?" said Margaret.

"You know how far," said Mary.

"Nowhere's far in Felling," said Catherine.

We watched Daft Peter.

"Move," said Catherine. "Go on. Move."

"Is Felling very small?" said Margaret.

Mary stamped her feet.

"Yes," said Catherine.

"Is it the smallest place in the world?"

"Is this Daft Question Day?" said Mary.

"Yes!" said Margaret.

"It's very small," said Catherine. "But there's smaller places."

"Where?"

"Places in the desert," said Mary. "Rings of huts in the jungle. Villages in the Himalayas."

"Yes," said Catherine. "And places like Hebburn or Seaton Sluice."

"Not Seaton Sluice," said Mary. "It's got that big beach. It's got to be bigger than Felling. And Hebburn's got that big new shopping center."

Catherine sighed.

"Windy Nook, then," she said.

"That's not fair," said Mary. "Windy Nook's a part of somewhere else."

"Where, then? And make it somewhere we know."

"Bill Quay," said Mary.

No one said anything, even though we all knew Bill Quay was part of somewhere else as well.

"Thank goodness," said Catherine. "Bill Quay."

Daft Peter didn't move. In the end, we walked on. Dandy snarled as we drew nearer to the man.

"Dandy!" said Catherine.

Daft Peter smiled and rubbed his eyes.

"Here's me thought I was dreamin," he said. "And all the time I'm just wakin up."

He leaned against the tree.

"What would ye say if I knew how to turn swimmin fish into flyin fowl?" he said.

"Take no notice," whispered Catherine.

"Not much at all, I see," said Peter. "But what if I said I could take you girls and show you how to fly aroond this tree."

"I'd say you couldn't!" said Mary.

"Aha!" said Peter. "Just let me look inside this bag, then."

He dug into a brown bag. He took out a sandwich, something bright red and black hanging out of two dried-out slices of bread. He held it out to Mary as we approached.

"Take a bite of that," he said. "Go on, take a bite of that and see."

Dandy jumped up at him, barking and snarling. Daft Peter flailed and kicked and the sandwich flew into the road.

"Daft dog!" he shouted. "Look what ye've done to me dinna!"

We hurried past.

"What would ye say if I turned a daft dog into a nice meat pie?" yelled Peter.

"I'd say it would be very hairy and it would stink!" said Mary.


From the Hardcover edition.
David Almond

About David Almond

David Almond - Heaven Eyes

Photo © Alex Telfer Photography

“Writing can be difficult, but sometimes it really does feel like a kind of magic. I think that stories are living things—among the most important things in the world.”—David Almond

David Almond is the winner of the 2001 Michael L. Printz Award for Kit’s Wilderness, which has also been named best book of the year by School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. His first book for young readers, Skellig, is a Printz Honor winner.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miraculous beings living in a miraculous world . . .
Maybe it comes from my religious upbringing (I grew up in a big Catholic family): I do feel that we are miraculous beings living in a miraculous world. Sometimes the explanations we’re given—and the possibilities we’re offered—are just too restricted and mechanistic. Stories offer us a place to explore (as writers and readers) what it is to be fully human. I do think that young people are interested in the major questions—Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Is there a God?—and they’re willing to contemplate all kinds of possibilities. They haven’t yet become tired by such questions.

Brutality has to be allowed its place . . .
Ten minutes of TV news is enough to convince anybody that the world is a pretty brutal place. We aren’t yet perfect people living in a perfect world—and we never will be—so brutality has to be allowed its place. But the world also contains great tenderness, joy, hope, etc. I suppose that in my books I explore a world and people that are made up of opposites: good and evil, light and darkness, the beautiful and the ugly. And I hope that in the end, goodness, light, and beauty will have some kind of upper hand.

Stories as a whole form a kind of community . . .
The stories in Counting Stars don’t have a straightforward chronological progression, but there are many links between the different stories. They form a kind of mosaic. Themes hinted at in one story are developed in another. Characters are seen in different situations/settings. I like to think that the stories as a whole form a kind of community or family. It’s often said that there’s a big difference between writing short stories and novels, but I’m not so sure. I think of my novels as a series of scenes/chapters, each of which I write with the same kind of attention I’d give to a short story.

A readership of four . . .
When I began to write Counting Stars, I wanted to write about my sisters and brother, and to use their real names, so I needed their permission. I worried that they wouldn’t be happy about the book. So I invited them all to my house for dinner, and afterwards I told them my plans, and I nervously read one of the first stories, “The Fusilier.” If they had said no to using their real names, Counting Stars would have been a very different book—and maybe wouldn’t have been written at all. But they said yes! Over the next couple of years, after I’d written each story, I sent copies to my brother and three sisters, so that they could see how things were developing. So, in a sense, the book was written for a readership of four people.

Staring out of the window . . .
I write at home, in a little office overlooking the back garden. I scribble in an artist’s sketchbook and type onto an AppleMac computer. I work all day—though some of that time will involve staring out of the window and eating apples. But I also travel quite a lot, so I’m used to writing on trains, in hotels, etc.

I used to wonder if I'd ever be able to write a novel properly . . .
For many years, I wrote nothing but short stories, and I used to wonder if I’d ever be able to write a novel properly. I wrote the stories in Counting Stars before I wrote Skellig, my first children’s novel. I wrote them over a two-year period. As I wrote them, I found myself exploring childhood experience from a child’s point of view. I rediscovered the powerful imaginative and emotional nature of childhood. Really, writing these stories changed me into a writer for children/young adults.

Messing about with paper clips . . .
I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote little books and stories as a boy, and wanted to see my books on the shelves of our little local library right next to my favorite books: King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, The Day of the Triffids, and The Adventures of Turkey. But as for writing, I simply like it all—right from creating new stories to messing about with paper clips. The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received: Don't give up.

It’s often children who read the books with the most insight . . .
I think that children can be much more perceptive, creative, and intelligent than we give them credit for. I see this in the many letters I get from my readers and in the things that they say when I meet them. Some adults assume that children will never “get” the more complex aspects of my books, but in fact it’s often children who read the books with the most insight.


PRAISE


SKELLIG

—A Michael L. Printz Honor Book
—An ALA Notable Book
—A New York Times Best Book

“A lovingly done, thought-provoking novel.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“An amazing work. Some of the writing takes one’s breath away.”—Starred, Booklist

“Almond makes a triumphant debut in the field of children’s literature with prose that is at once eerie, magical, and poignant.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly


KIT’S WILDERNESS

—A Michael L. Printz Award Winner
—An ALA Notable Book
—A Publishers Weekly Best Book

“A highly satisfying literary experience.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Almond has set an enormous task for himself . . . but he succeeds beautifully.”—Starred, Booklist


HEAVEN EYES

“An awe-inspiring, multilayered novel from a master imagist.”—School Library Journal, Starred
Praise | Awards

Praise

"Almond's fans will willingly follow him on yet another journey into a surreal, murkey world that may be dream or reality." - Kirkus Reviews


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2002 ALA Notable Children's Book
About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions

About the Guide

Erin and her friends, January and Mouse, run away from their orphanage home in search of the boundless freedom of the ocean, but what they find instead shocks and amazes them. Just across the river, slightly beyond the Black Middens where their raft comes to rest, they find a girl named Heaven Eyes. Intrigued by their new acquaintance, Erin and her companions attempt to discover who Heaven Eyes is and where she has come from. In doing so, they come to recognize the beauty that lies in her ability to see through the darkness in the world to the joy that lies beneath.

About the Author

David Almond grew up in a small town in England. He has been a mailman, a brush salesman, an editor, and a teacher. He won the Michael L. Printz Award for Kit’s Wilderness as well as a Printz Honor for his first novel, Skellig, which also received the Whitbread Award and the Carnegie Medal in the U.K. David Almond lives with his family in Newcastle, England.

A Note from the Author
:
Stories are central to our shared civilization. They speak across oceans and continents and draw us closer together. Nothing will ever replace their power to enter our minds and hearts and help us understand what it is to be human.

Like my first two novels, this story is set in very real surroundings, close to my home in the northeast of England. And like those novels, it blends that reality with imagination and dreams and explores its magical possibilities.


From the Hardcover edition.

Discussion Guides

1. Though each of the children in Heaven Eyes is an orphan, Almond develops a strong sense of family throughout the book. What role does family play in the novel? According to the book, what does it take to become a family?

2. Names and the ability to be renamed are very important to the characters in the story. Discuss the significance of each character’s name to their role in the book. What does it mean when someone is renamed? How does it change their character? What happens when Heaven Eyes discovers her true name?

3. Heaven Eyes constantly reveals her sleep thoughts to Erin and explains that they are separate from her waking thoughts. Is this true? How do the sleep thoughts of Heaven Eyes and the other characters relate to their waking lives? What happens when the two realms collide?

4. Discuss the role of death in the novel. How does death impact each of the characters? How does the children’s perception of death change from the beginning of the novel to the end? What influence do Heaven Eyes and Grampa have on that perception?

5. Erin and January set out in search of freedom and decide to bring Mouse along when they find him scavenging the earth for "real treasure." (p. 35) Do you think January and Erin are looking only for freedom? How does their search change when they reach the Black Middens? What treasures do they find when they meet Heaven Eyes and Grampa? What do those treasures come to mean to them?

6. Contrast the reactions of Erin and January when they first meet Heaven Eyes. Why do you think they react so differently to her?

7. How are light and dark important in the book? Who is associated with the light and who with the dark? Why do you think this is so?

8. The two living adult characters in the book have different ways of relating to the past. Grampa chooses to shroud the past in secrecy, while Maureen continually asks the children in her care to reveal their memories. How do the children respond to the adults’ ways of dealing with the past? What effect do the secrets and revelations have on the children? How do the children choose to deal with the past on their own? How does it affect their self-knowledge?

9. As they set out to return to Whitegates, Erin notes, "The most marvelous of things could be found a few yards away, a river’s-width away. The most extraordinary things existed in our ordinary world and just waited for us to find them." (p.194) How is this statement reflected throughout the book? How does this view of the world vary from one that Erin and January might have expressed at the beginning of the novel?

10. At the end of the novel Erin explains to Maureen that "We run for freedom. . . . Just for freedom." (p. 197) Do you think Erin, January, and Mouse found what they set out to find? Are there ways in which Heaven Eyes might represent freedom to them?


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