How does Mina help Michael to feel comfortable with his life?

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In British author David Almond’s 1998 children’s novel, Skellig, the protagonist is ten-year-old Michael, who moves with his family to a fictional town in England, after his infant sister is born prematurely (placing excessive emotional and financial burdens on his family). They move into a fixer-upper house, and...

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In British author David Almond’s 1998 children’s novel, Skellig, the protagonist is ten-year-old Michael, who moves with his family to a fictional town in England, after his infant sister is born prematurely (placing excessive emotional and financial burdens on his family). They move into a fixer-upper house, and Michael finds the title character, Skellig (an old, decrepit, part-man and part-angel) in the garage. Mina is a young girl Michael’s age who lives next door to the house that Michael moves into with his family.

Mina is cheerful and an overall positive influence on Michael’s life. She is homeschooled, and believes that school curricula imposes unnecessary restraints. Mina also rejects activities popular with children her age, such as football. Instead, Mina is closely in touch with nature (and is an admirer of the poetry of William Blake). She encourages Michael to be similarly aware of his emotions. Additionally, she invites Michael into her attic to see her collection of owls. Mina considers birds symbols of freedom, and encourages Michael to get to know her birds.
Michael invites Mina to investigate Skellig with him. Thus, Mina becomes a similarly close friend of the creature. Mina’s largest influence on Michael is her ability to get him to feel comfortable with his emotions and to express his emotions.
In addition to encouraging Michael to be in touch with his emotions, his spiritual side, and nature in general, Mina demonstrates to Michael how to be closely observant, rather than judgmental. When she first meets Skellig, for example, Mina is not frightened or disgusted, but tries to determine aspects of the creature's physical condition. Mina also likes to observe blackbirds, and tells Michael that these birds are not dangerous, but rather humans are dangerous to the birds.
Mina is incredibly wise beyond her years, and imparts her wisdom—that nature is worth observing and admiring, and that people and relationships are more important that sports and popularity—to Michael, who develops a closer bond with her than with any of his friends at school.
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