Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay March 23, 2012

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:32 pm
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A Monster Calls cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

215 pages; published September 2011

The Basics

As Conor struggles to deal with his mother’s illness, the yew tree in his back yard wakes and come walking – walking into Conor’s room wanting to share with him three strories of Truth. As payment, the Monster demands Conor’s Truth and uncovers more than the boy himself ever knew.

Book Talk

Conor’s mom is so, so sick. His father is absent – gone to America with his new wife. He’s being bullied at school. His Grandmother is unpleasant and unwelcoming. Conor has no where turn until he wakes at 7 minutes after midnight to find a yew tree, come to life in monstrous form and standing at his window. The yew tree keeps coming back, coming in, telling stories it calls Truth and pushing at Conor to tell his own Truth until Conor boils over and A Monster Calls.

Random Thought

The simple black line drawings for this book are stunning, dark, angry, and luminescent. They don’t just complement the story, they help tell it and pull the reader in to Conor’s turmoil. Also, the back story of Siobhan Dowd, who conceived this story but died of breast cancer before she could write it, is fascinating.

Fair Warning

By the time I reached the end of this books, I was crying so hard I couldn’t hardly see the words. Keep tissues nearby.


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