Written in haunting prose and lyrical language, Kit's Wilderness explores the bonds of family from one generation to the next, and how, from the depths of darkness, meaning and beauty can be revealed.
The questions that follow are intended to guide readers as they begin to analyze the larger emotional, sociological, and literary elements of this
The Watson family moves to
Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to care for Kit's recently
widowed grandfather. When Kit meets John Askew, another boy whose family has both worked and died in the mines, Askew invites
Kit to join him in a game called Death. As Kit's grandfather tells him stories of the mine's past and the history of the Watson family, Askew takes Kit into the mines, where the boys look for the childhood ghosts of their long-gone ancestors.
1. When Kit and his friends play the game they call "Death," they claim they can see the ghosts of children killed in the mine. Are the ghosts that Kit and his friends see real?
2. What do you think makes John Askew, Kit, and Kit's grandfather able to see ghosts?
3. David Almond calls this book Kit's Wilderness. Why? What is Kit's "wilderness"?
4. While studying the Ice Age in school, Kit and his classmates are asked to write a story about a young caveman called Lak. How is Kit's own life similar to the story he writes about Lak? How is it different?
5. What is "the pit"? What do you think it represents?
6. The author sets the story in wintertime. How do the physical landscape and season reflect the characters' emotional landscapes and states of mind?
7. Despite his fading memory, Kit's grandfather is always able to recognize Allie. Why? What might she represent for him? What might she represent in the story?
8. When Kit's grandfather gives him treasures from the mine, fossils from the ancient past, Kit slips the ammonite into his pocket and tells himself, "I'd keep it with me always now. A treasure from my grandfather. A gift from the deep, dark past." What other "gifts" does his grandfather bestow upon Kit?
9. John Askew is perceived as a no-good troublemaker by the townspeople. Is he really as bad as everyone thinks he is? In what ways is he darker? In what ways is he lighter?
10. What is the role of storytelling in Kit's Wilderness? How is storytelling used throughout the novel and in what different ways?
David Almond's debut novel, Skellig, is one of the most remarkable children's novels published in recent years, and the winner of England's Whitbread Children's Book of the Year, as well as a Michael L. Printz Honor for young adults. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called Skellig, "a triumphant debut . . . at once eerie, magical, and poignant," and Booklist raved, "Some of the writing takes one's breath away." Skellig was voted a Publishers Weekly, New York Times, and School Library Journal Best Book of 1999. Kit's Wilderness is David Almond's second novel for children.