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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Ness, Patrick, Kay, Jim (Illustrator)
ISBN: 0763660655     ISBN-13: 9780763660659
Publisher: Candlewick Pr
    OUR PRICE: $10.80  
Product Type: Paperback - Other Formats
Published: March 2013
Annotation: 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 creature that wants him to face truth and loss.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Self-actualization (Psychology); Fiction.
Monsters; Fiction.
Mothers and sons; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2010040741
Lexile Measure: 730
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.25" H x 6.25" W x 0.75" (1.10 lbs) 204 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 147163
Reading Level: 4.8   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 5.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q55561
Reading Level: 4.5   Interest Level: Grades 6-8   Point Value: 9.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): trick 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.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring)
[=Inspired by an idea from]A monster spirit visits Conor to tell him three stories before Conor must tell him a fourth--the story of his recurring nightmare. The mysterious content of the nightmare physically affects Conor while revealing itself organically and in emotionally powerful ways. Kay's drawings involving the monster effectively enhance the harrowing qualities of Ness's heart-wrenching and thought-provoking narrative. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #5)
Conor's mum has cancer; his father lives in America with his new family and rarely visits; he doesn't get along with his grandma who helps look after his mother; he's picked on by a bully and feels isolated from the other kids at school; and he consistently has the same nightmare that he tells no one about. No one, that is, until a monster spirit, in the form of a yew tree, comes to visit Conor (always at 12:07), to tell him three stories before Conor must tell him a fourth -- the story of his nightmare. The stories of the witch and the prince, the apothecary and the parson, and the invisible man indirectly relate to Conor's situation, but he does not realize their significance until the monster forces him to speak the thoughts he has been burying deep within himself and feeling horribly guilty over. Carnegie Medal-winner Ness's eloquent tale of pain and loss, inspired by an idea from author Siobhan Dowd prior to her early death from cancer in 2007, is both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. The mysterious content of Conor's nightmare physically affects him while revealing itself organically and in emotionally powerful ways as Ness's story progresses. While some of Kay's drawings feel a bit one-dimensional and detached from the text, those involving the monster and his stories effectively capture and enhance the harrowing qualities of Ness's narrative. cynthia k. ritter Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2011 June #3)

In his introduction to this profoundly moving, expertly crafted tale of unaccountable loss, Ness explains how he developed the story from a set of notes left by Siobhan Dowd, who died in 2007 before she had completed a first draft. "I felt—and feel—as if I've been handed a baton, like a particularly fine writer has given me her story and said, ‘Go. Run with it. Make trouble.' " What Ness has produced is a singular masterpiece, exceptionally well-served by Kay's atmospheric and ominous illustrations. Conor O'Malley is 13. His mother is being treated for cancer; his father, Liam, has remarried and lives in America; and Conor is left in the care of a grandmother who cares more for her antique wall clock than her grandson. This grim existence is compounded by bullies at school who make fun of his mother's baldness, and an actual nightmare that wakes Conor, screaming, on a recurring basis. Then comes the monster—part human, part arboreal—a hulking yew tree that walks to his window just after midnight and tells three inscrutable parables, each of which disappoints Conor because the good guy is continually wronged. "Many things that are true feel like a cheat," the monster explains. In return for the monster's stories, Conor must tell his own, and the monster demands it be true, forcing Conor, a good boy, a dutiful son, to face up to his feelings: rage and, worse still, fear. If one point of writing is to leave something that transcends human existence, Ness has pulled a fast one on the Grim Reaper, finishing the story death kept Dowd from giving us. It is a story that not only does honor to her memory, it tackles the toughest of subjects by refusing to flinch, meeting the ugly truth about life head-on with compassion, bravery, and insight. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2011 September)

Gr 7 Up—Conor O'Malley, 13, is having a difficult time. At school, he copes with bullying and loneliness. His father is living in America with his new family, and at home he has to contend with a recurring nightmare that torments him every night. His mother is seriously ill and undergoing painful cancer treatments. One night, he wakes up to a voice calling his name. An ancient, treelike monster, hovering over him like a sleeping giant, has come to tell him three stories. When the monster is done, he wishes for Conor to tell him a fourth tale, wanting the scariest thing of all-the truth. The wise monster's ambiguous tales contain unexpected outcomes and help demonstrate that not all stories have happy endings, but they can be more important than anything else if they carry the truth. Conor has to accept the truth about his mother's prognosis and letting go, even if it means losing her. Only then can he start to heal, without destroying himself in the process. This is an extraordinarily moving story inspired by an idea from author Siobhan Dowd before she passed away. Kay's shadowy illustrations slither along the borders of the pages and intermingle with text to help set its dark, mysterious mood, while Conor is often seen as a silhouette. A brilliantly executed, powerful tale.—Krista Welz, North Bergen Public Library, NJ

[Page 164]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.