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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls (edition 2012)

by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (Illustrator)

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1,7462034,044 (4.41)238
Title:A Monster Calls
Authors:Patrick Ness
Other authors:Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay (Illustrator)
Info:Walker (2012), Paperback, 216 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, children's, Carnegie Medal, magical realism

Work details

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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» See also 238 mentions

English (198)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (203)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
I have a Patrick Ness book on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, but I definitely will after reading A Monster Calls. Conor’s mother is wasting away in the hospital, and he’s been having a recurring nightmare about it all. Yet, when a monster comes to his window in the middle of the night, it’s not the monster Conor has been dreaming about. The monster keeps visiting him, and Conor has to figure out what he wants and how the monster can help his mother. The story is lyrical and haunting, and the illustrations really make certain scenes stand out.
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Inspired from an idea by Siobhan Dowd, Illustrations by Jim Kay

Candlewick Press; 2011

I am not exactly sure how to write a review on this book. When I first saw that it had illustrations, the first thing I thought of was The Inventions of Hugo Cabret, which this most definitely is not. They are rougher, sketchier, darker and undefined, and capture the mood of the story completely. I wasn't sure what to expect. I have it out from the library and have to turn it in today, but the library isn't open yet and I have to go to the bank and they aren't open yet either so I decided to try to read it (I've been extremely occupied with other things and have been neglecting my library books) this morning. I am so glad that I did. It's not an enormously time-consuming book, despite it's thickness.

The main character is a boy, Conor, whose mother has cancer and has been through several rounds of treatments, and what it's like for him while she undergoes them. He has a recurring nightmare, and a giant yew tree comes to life which normally remains in a stationary form outside their house. The tree comes at a specific time, and tells him three stories, and tells Conor that he will have to tell the tree the fourth one, Conor's Story. I'll just say that the tree's stories surprised me with their endings.

Many little things in the book happened that I wasn't expecting. Conor and his grandmother's relationship is a prickly one (his mother's mom), but she's who they have in common. Conor's bullied at school. His best friend, Lily, told other kids his mom had cancer and now he's alone at school. So he goes from this nightmarish existence at school to a nightmarish existence at home, only the one at home is more permanent.

I did cry at the end--more like the last thirty or so pages, I suppose. There's obviously a message in the book, and I've been trying to figure out how overt or subtle it is. I know, it seems like one of those things that would be obvious. But the book isn't black and white (well, literally it is) in terms of its definitions of things, verging more into shades of grey (don't even dare ask how many or you deserve a virtual bop on the head)---issues people of any age feel guilty about and beat themselves up over because they don't fit neatly into one category or the other.

On reflection, in my opinion, the messages are headed (on an rpm type thing you'd find in a car--at least an "old" car that still has an actual one with a needle and isn't digital) more toward the subtle edge. The Yew Tree's stories and the ending--what the tree wanted to hear from Conor in his story, weren't quite what I expected, but the tree's reasoning was perfectly sound.

After finishing this book, I immediately ordered a copy for myself. I don't know what Siobhan Dowd would have wanted. She had written the beginning and had the basic idea for the story, she had talked to her editor about A Monster Calls. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and died at 47 before she could write the book. That in itself makes me want to cry. That's only four year older than I am. I think it was done very well. But, maybe that in itself is a message to all of us. If there's something we dream of doing or trying, be it writing, or learning calligraphy, learning to knit, learn how to make jewelry--DO IT.

I would highly recommend this book--not force it on anyone, maybe just leave it lying around for the Conors around there. And even if you're not, it's not a book you're likely to forget soon. ( )
2 vote waclements7 | Oct 27, 2015 |
13-year-old Conor is visited most nights by a nightmare and a monster, but they're not one and the same. The nightmare, gradually revealed throughout the book, terrorizes Conor by night as his mother's cancer terrorizes him by day. The monster comes to Conor to help him cope with his feelings about his mother's cancer by telling him a series of stories. The book started out a little slow for me, but once the monster told its first story, I was hooked. The illustrations in the book are beautiful and haunting and enhance the dark tone of the story. The subject matter in this book is heavy, so I wouldn't recommend it to kids below 5th grade, and I would only to 5th or 6th graders who are serious readers. I would recommend it to anyone 7th grade or over. ( )
  amythelibrarian | Oct 21, 2015 |
Oh my lord! This book took me by surprise. I sure wasn't expecting this book to make me cry. I just picked it up and couldn't put it down. Just, it was perfect. I literally can ask for nothing more from a book than what A Monster Calls provides. I honestly went into this book thinking it was going to be creepy and awesome. I got the awesome part, but in the wrong sense. It's execution and way of dealing with Conor's situation was a masterpiece. I began the story confused to the intentions of the yew tree monster but the truth grew to fruition as the story progressed. I loved the stories he told especially the invisible man.
I just, don't think I have the right amount of words to express how I feel about this book. Boy am I grateful that I decided to pick this up. I've never been so happy from an off-chance purchase.
Would recommend to absolutely everyone. Everyone in the entire world. ( )
1 vote ebethiepaige | Oct 20, 2015 |
Not at all what I was expecting but such a great story, very moving. ( )
  ColinThompson | Oct 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
"... it’s powerful medicine: a story that lodges in your bones and stays there." “A Monster Calls” is a gift from a generous story­teller and a potent piece of art.
added by RBeffa | editNew York Times, Jessica Bruder (Oct 14, 2011)
The power of this beautiful and achingly sad story for readers over the age of 12 derives not only from Mr. Ness's capacity to write heart-stopping prose but also from Jim Kay's stunning black-ink illustrations. There are images in these pages so wild and ragged that they feel dragged by their roots from the deepest realms of myth.
It's also an extraordinarily beautiful book. Kay's menacing, energetic illustrations and the way they interact with the text, together with the lavish production values, make it a joy just to hold in your hand. If I have one quibble, it is with a line in the introduction where Ness says the point of a story is to "make trouble". It seems to me he has done the opposite here. He's produced something deeply comforting and glowing with – to use a Siobhan Dowd word – solace. The point of art and love is to try to shortchange that grim tax collector, death. Ness, Dowd, Kay and Walker have rifled death's pockets and pulled out a treasure. Death, it seems, is no disqualification.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Nessprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dowd, SiobhanAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kay, JimIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abarbanell, BettinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
You're only young once, they say, but doesn't it go on for a long time? More years than you can bear.
Hilary Mantel, An Experiment in Love
For Siobhan (Dowd)
First words
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.
I never got to meet Siobhan Dowd. (Author's Note)
You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Haiku summary
The monster tells tales
that don't behave and Conor
accepts a hard truth.

No descriptions found.

Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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