From the Paperback edition.
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|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
David Almond grew up in a large family in northeastern England and says, “The place and the people have given me many of my stories.” His first novel for children, Skellig, was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book and appeared on many Best Book of the Year lists. He wrote My Name Is Mina, the prequel to Skellig. His novel Kit’s Wilderness won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. David Almond is a recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. He lives in England. Visit him online at davidalmond.com and on Facebook and follow him @davidjalmond on Twitter.
Read an 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?"
Mam prodded Margaret's navel again.
"That's the middle of the world," she said.
Later that day we went to the grave. Colinrushed 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."
"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."
"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 Paperback edition.
Reading Group Guide
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 thebook? 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?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had borrowed this book from the library so I could read it for fun and leisure, but this book was but one word: horrendous! What kind of book is this?! Through all of those spelling and grammar errors which made it extremely difficult to follow much less read, the book was extremely random and incohesive. I agree with those that said this book was not worth their time. No one should ever have to endure this kind of torture.
This is a great book and has such a good ending. The book pulls you through and wants you to learn more about little Heaven Eyes, where the dream world and the real world are the same
I think this book is wonderful! It is full of things that will help the reader understand it better! I think this book is very emotional in some parts and I advise that 7th grade and higher read it!
This book is truly an amzing book full of feeling. It is an amazingly well written book with a beautiful plot.
Well . . . this book was deffinitely different. I liked it. It was different, saying, that the plot was very different. The characters each were different, but had a likeness that drawed them together. Each character, even heaven eyes and grandpa, were the same in some weird way. I would recommend for people who have a GREAT vocabulary. Not because this book is hard but because it has misspelled words, and british language. It is, like ihave said before, DIFFERENT! But i would give it 4 stars.
Well, I must say that Heaven Eyes is certainly different. I bought this book thinking that it was about something totally different then what it really was about. I thought it was pretty good. It wasn't my favorite or the worst, but it was one that I will remember because of its uniqueness. The way some of the characters talked was a new experience. I thought it was written beautifully, and the storyline was one you don't read about too much. The only negative thing I have to say would be that it seemed a little confusing. It ended leaving me with a few questions, it also never stated the character's ages. I am a very visual person, and I couldn't quite picture anything without knowing if they were 11 or 18.
I borrowed heaven eyes from the library because the cover was beautiful and the inside jacket or the back, I forgot it sounded interesting. It had such a bad beggining and it had no plot. After the first chapter I was reading it for the sake of reading. I had to force myself to pick it up and keep my eyes on the page. There was no climax no problem not much of anything. I wouldn't read it unless you can read books with no plots. If I could I wouldn't give it even a star.
Gifted Broadway, film and television actress Amanda Plummer brings excitement and drama to her reading of this imaginative tale. Erin and January have run away from the children's home before; they're both adventuresome and brave for ones so young. But this escape takes a frightening turn when they find themselves afloat on a deep, dark river, carried by powerful currents until they find a one-of-a-kind girl called Heaven Eyes. Now, not only does Heaven Eyes have a strange appearance - webbed hands and feet - but, she apparently has the ability to help these children find their place in the world. This is a story of courage, confidence, and comradery, a haunting narrative not easily forgotten.
If I could give half of a star I would. This book was a bitter disappointment. The book looked good when I borrowed it from the library, but it came out to be pointless and nothing was explained at all. It was basically the same for about ten chapters, with nothing new happening. When the 'climax' (I really did not think that there was an actual climax) was reached, the book was as boring as ever. I would not recommend this to anyone unless you like obscure books that make no sense.
This is a lovely book. David Almond gets inside the minds of the children he has created. He writes in such a way that the reader feels that they know the characters. He combines adventure with emotion, and does it perfectly. I stronly recommend that ANYONE shold read it.
This book was amazing.....'nuff said.
Continuing my quest to read all of Almond's books in 2009, I found this book more mythological than his previous.As usual, Almond writes of children who search to belong and to make sense of the adult world around them. Again, the pattern in Almond's work is the main character who binds the wounds and heals the pain is a strong female.Erin Law and her friends January Carr and Mouse Gullane live in the orphanage of Whitegate, and are labeled "Damaged Children." With no parents to take care of them, they carry the pain of abandonment, neglect and abuse.Longing for "freedom" from the labels and the cruel fate life has dealt them, they run away in a handmade raft.Their adventure to the deep, muddy Black Middens symbolically takes them to the darkness of their memories and the quest for the light of love...found through a waif, fantasy like creature called Heaven's Eyes.Heaven's Eyes, also a child without parents, accepts and loves unconditionally and through her the small group of misfits form a family and see through the darkness into the light.This is a book that is touchingly mystical and thought provoking.
A strange and mysterious novel about a young girl, seemingly orphaned. The writing style is also mysterious; the author never reveals anything directly. The characters are deep as is the plot. This is a great young adult novel.
This young adult novel is about orphans, or "Damaged Children", being raised in an orphanage in the UK. The main character, Erin Law, and her two best friends, January Carr and Mouse Gullane often run away for a few days but always make it back none the worse for wear. On this trip, they fall into an almost mystical bog world (although really they are on a derelict waterfront not far from home) where they meet a strange young girl called Heaven Eyes and her caretaker grampa. This experience leaves them much closer than before as Heaven Eyes peers into their souls and manages to see the joy that exists beneath all the sadness in the world.Unlike most young adult fiction, there is no happy or neatly wrapped ending. This novel explores themes of family, abandonment and belonging. The author explains very little, but reveals his messages through the actions and feelings of his characters.Worth reading.