A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Book rating: 05 Hardback

By (author) Patrick Ness, Illustrated by Jim Kay, Created by Siobhan Dowd

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  • Publisher: Candlewick Press,U.S.
  • Format: Hardback | 204 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 211mm x 25mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 15 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Cambrudge, MA
  • ISBN 10: 0763655597
  • ISBN 13: 9780763655594
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 9,983

Product description

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor. At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

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Author information

Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy. He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children's Book Award. Born in Virginia, he lives in London. Siobhan Dowd spent twenty years as a human rights campaigner for PEN and Amnesty International before her first novel, A SWIFT PURE CRY, was published in 2006. She won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 after her death at the age of forty-seven. Jim Kay studied illustration and worked in the archives of the Tate Gallery and the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, two experiences that heavily influence his work. His images for A MONSTER CALLS use everything from beetles to breadboards to create interesting marks and textures. Jim Kay lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Customer reviews

By Nicola Mansfield 27 Nov 2011 5

A 13-year-old boy is dealing with the terminal illness of his single mother. He has nightmares almost every night, is a loner at school, is bullied by one boy in particular and one night begin the visitations of a monster at 12:07. The story deals with the normal emotions of a child dealing with the imminent death of a parent: grief, anger, etc. and the mystical world of the nightmares and the monster symbolize things the boy can't verbalize or rationalize himself otherwise.

This is a dark story but with a redeeming ending. Don't let the fact that it is an illustrated book fool you into thinking the book is suitable for young children. It is definitely a YA title, dealing with some tough emotions, dark situations, frightening scenes and emotionally draining. I lost my mother to terminal illness at age 24 and the deathbed scene brought tears to my eyes. A powerful, haunting and gut-wrenching story.

The book is profusely illustrated in a very dark manner. With what appears to be black ink throughout, some illustrations are mostly dark texturized blackness with no focal image while others are quite outstanding haunting images featuring the monster. On their own I'm not sure I would appreciate them but they are a perfect match for the story being told. This is a book I wouldn't be surprised to see on award lists.

Review quote

There's no denying it: this is one profoundly sad story. But it's also wise, darkly funny and brave, told in spare sentences, punctuated with fantastic images and stirring silences. Past his sorrow, fright and rage, Conor ultimately lands in a place - an imperfect one, of course - where healing can begin. A MONSTER CALLS is a gift from a generous story-teller and a potent piece of art. --The New York Times A nuanced tale that draws on elements of classic horror stories to delve into the terrifying terrain of loss. . . . Ness brilliantly captures Conor's horrifying emotional ride as his mother's inevitable death approaches. In an ideal pairing of text and illustration, the novel is liberally laced with Kay's evocatively textured pen-and-ink artwork, which surrounds the text, softly caressing it in quiet moments and in others rushing toward the viewer with a nightmarish intensity.A poignant tribute to the life and talent of Siobhan Dowd and an astonishing exploration of fear. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Profoundly moving, expertly crafted tale... a singular masterpiece, exceptionally well-served by Kay's atmospheric and ominous illustrations... tackles the toughest of subjects by refusing to flinch, meeting the ugly truth about life head-on with compassion, bravery, and insight. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) A brilliantly executed, powerful tale. --School Library Journal (starred review) Ness twists out a resolution that is revelatory in its obviousness, beautiful in its execution, and fearless in its honesty. Kays artwork keeps the pace, gnawing at the edges of the pages with thundercloud shadows and keeping the monster just barely, terribly seeable. --Booklist (starred review) A masterpiece about life and loss that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned. --Library Media Connection (starred review)