Reader Reviewed Half a Creature from the Sea by David Almond

Half a Creature from the Sea

Written by David Almond
Illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

An anthology of dark, powerful and moving short stories from master storyteller and author of the internationally award-winning Skellig, David Almond, inspired by his childhood in the North-East of England. It features coming of age stories on the theme of closeness to home, deftly interwoven with illuminating autobiographical pieces on the inspirations behind the fiction. It is a beautifully produced jacketed hardback edition with black and white vignette illustrations.

David Almond says of this unique collection, “Stories on the page are so beautifully neat. All that lovely black print; those lovely straight lines and paragraphs and pages. But stories are living things, creatures that move and grow in the imaginations of writer and reader. They must be solid and touchable, like the land, and must have fluid half-known depths, like the sea. These stories take place in a real world – but in fiction, real worlds merge with dreamed worlds. Real people walk with ghosts and figments. Earthly truth goes hand-in-hand with watery lies.”

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Jake Fletcher, age 13 - 'If you only want a glimpse at Almond’s work, this is the perfect snapshot. An autobiography with a difference...Sparkling in the water, David Almond’s Half a Creature From The Sea is a reflection of the storyteller’s genius.' Read full review >
  • Aimee Sweet, age 13 - 'Twisted with emotion, threaded with the smell of the sea, Almond creates both fantasy and reality in this gripping book.' Read full review >
  • Emily Kinder, age 13 - 'This powerful set of short stories is typical of David Almond. All set in his  childhood village; some are charming, some are dark, all are thought provoking.' Read full review >
  • Poppy, age 15 - 'I thought that Half A Creature From The Sea were beautifully written short stories, told by a spell binding author. They where creative and imaginative, easy to picture and very enjoyable.' Read full review >


Half a Creature from the Sea by David Almond

This is a collection of short stories from master storyteller David Almond, inspired by his childhood in the north-east of England. Stories include: The Missing Link, Joe Quinn's Poltergeist, Harry Miller's Run, Slog's Dad, Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads, Mary Malone, Half a Creature from the Sea, and, When God Came to Kathleen's Garden.


This coming of age collections of stories inspired by Almond's childhood in the north east, which of course is so prevalent through his work. The Bookseller The work of a writer of great power, and a living insight for teenage readers into the power of imagination and the way that stories grow from seed to fruit The School Librarian The autobiographical notes are stories in themselves, encouraging young writers in their reminder that we all have the material for fiction a short memory away... As well as the living roots of the stories, the prefaces reveal where, how or why Almond wrote them, and that some have seen many drafts and may never be finished: more encouragement. Observer If anything will encourage teenagers to start writing, it is this superb masterclass in how setting, dialogue and character can convey powerful emotions in a few words. Daily Mail A powerful collection of stories, interleaved by Almond's memories of the places he grew up in. It's a meditation on the power of stories ... extraordinary dreamy atmosphere and lyrical evocation of life by the sea. Children's Books Ireland Recommended Read An absolute treat ... he writes sparingly and beautifully... fiction to treasure Books for Keeps The tale-behind-the-tale preludes are intriguing-perhaps especially to big fans and those interested in the writing process-but the stories themselves shine brightest here. Taylor's illustrations, sometimes cartoonish, sometimes more abstract and moody, cast the Almondine experience in yet another new light. This is powerful, top-notch storytelling from Almond, who seems himself to be the titular half a creature from the sea, in that he, as ever, fluidly blends past and future, the living and the dead, the ordinary and the transcendent. Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

David Almond

David Almond was our Guest Editor in September 2011 CLICK HERE to see his choices.

As a child

I grew up in a large Catholic family in Felling-on-Tyne: four sisters and one brother. I always knew I'd be a writer – I wrote stories and stitched them into little books. I had an uncle who was a printer, and in his printing shop I learned my love of black words on white pages. I loved our local library and dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover on its shelves. I also dreamed of playing for Newcastle United (and I still wait for the call!). There was much joy in my childhood, but also much sadness: a baby sister died when I was 7; my dad died when we were all still young; my mum was always seriously ill with arthritis. But it was a childhood, like all childhoods, that provided everything a writer needs, and it illuminates and informs everything I write.

As an adult

After school, I read English and American Literature. When I graduated I became a teacher – long holidays, short days, just perfect for a writer. After 5 years, I gave up the job and lived in a commune in rural Norfolk where I wrote and met my partner Sara Jane. I wrote a long adult novel that was rejected by every UK publisher. I had two collections of short stories published by the tiny IRON Press. I started another adult novel, put it aside, and suddenly, out of the blue, I found myself writing Skellig. It was as if the story had been waiting for me, and once I began, it seemed to write itself. I hadn't expected to write a children's novel, but in some way it was the natural outcome of everything I'd done before, and was the stepping-stone to everything I've done since. I now live in Northumberland with Sara Jane and our daughter Freya. I'm a full-time writer. Sara Jane makes ceramics, Freya goes to school.

As an artist

For years, I was hardly published and hardly anyone knew about me apart from a handful of keen fans. And I made just about no money at all from writing. That didn't really matter to me. I'd keep on writing, no matter what. Then I wrote Skellig and everything changed. I began to sell lots of books, to be translated into many languages, to travel, to win lots of prizes. I've written a number of novels after Skellig, including Kit's Wilderness, The Fire-Eaters and Clay. There have been stage versions of the novels, and films and an opera are on their way. I used to write in the attic at home, but there were lots of distractions – especially from email and telephone. So last year, I had a cabin built at the bottom of the garden. It's very nice, blue-grey and surrounded by trees. I have a radiator to keep me warm and I have a tap and a kettle for making tea. Every morning – when I'm at home and not travelling or making school visits or talking to people on the phone or answering emails – I carry my laptop down to the cabin and I set to work.

Things you didn't know about David Almond

I once held the school high-jump record – 5 ft 2.5 inches.

I have a pet rabbit called Bill who can grunt.

I dream about football – and kick in my sleep!

I love Japanese food – except for the thing I was given once that looked like an alien's brain.

I've taken part in three Great North Runs (half-marathons).

My favourite place is Upper Swaledale in Yorkshire.

I love bikes, camping and fires.

My first TV appearance was as an altar boy in a televised mass when I was eleven.

My grandfather was a bookie (he took bets on horse races). His advice? "Never bet." He also told me, "Never read novels. They're all just lies."

My nickname at school was Dai, and several old friends still call me that.

Julia Eccleshare on David Almond:

One of the best-loved and finest writers of today, David Almond made an immediate impact with Skellig, his first book. The moving story of a boy’s discovery of a strange creature in the shed which can be interpreted in many ways introduced some to the recurrent themes of David Almond’s writing. Infused with a touch of magic or the supernatural or ‘belief’, David Almond writes sensitively about the inner complexities of growing up. Much influenced by the landscape of Tyneside where he was brought up and still lives, David Almond’s books have a strong sense of place especially in titles such as Heaven’s Eyes, The Fire-Eater and Kit’s Wilderness. Although often clearly set in some particular time, there is a timeless quality to David Almond’s stories which give them enduring appeal.

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Book Info


240 pages
Interest Age: From 10


David Almond
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

7th April 2016




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