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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Illustrated by Jim Kay

June 27, 2012

A Monster Calls by Patrick ness. Illus. Jim Kay. Pub.  Walker Books, 2012.

A novel of raw emotion for your gifted reader at intermediate level and good readers at high school. Adults and young adults will be moved by it.

This is an important story because it carries the truth about us all. We all have fears and sometimes these fears release the monster within. So it is with Conor.

Conor loves his mum but she is very sick. She has lost her hair, gets very tired and is getting weaker by the day. She often stares out the window at the huge Yew tree by the churchyard and this tree becomes the focus of all Conor’s fears about his mother and later offers him hope.

He dreams a dream that scares him to death and he feels strong guilt about it so tells no-one. He bottles it all up inside and becomes invisible at school. This attracts a bully called Harry who Conorallows to bully him because he feels guilt over his secret dream.

At 12.07 one night he dreams that the yew tree turns into a monster and comes to his house. He handles the monster very well and even goads it to come and get him. The monster over time tells him three stories relevant to Conor’s plight and says the last story will be his.

As his mother’s health deteriorates Conor resents the intrusion of his grandmother and the arrival from America of his father. These circumstances release the monster from within Conor and the result makes compelling reading.

The message is positive and clear. Conor must admit and accept what is happening in order to let go.

Stunningly illustrated by Jim Kay’s detailed black and white drawings this is a harrowing novel in parts but exceptional storytelling.

One of the great novels of 2012.

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