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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd Hardcover – September 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763655597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763655594
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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 story­teller 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)

About the Author

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.

More About the Author

As a child
I was born on an army base called Fort Belvoir, near Alexandria, Virginia, in the United States. My father was a drill sergeant in the US Army, but much nicer than that makes him seem. I only stayed at Fort Belvoir for the first four months of my life and have never even been back to the East Coast of America. We moved to Hawaii, where I lived until I was almost six. I went to kindergarten there, and we used to have field trips down to Waikiki Beach. I once picked up a living sea urchin and got about a hundred needle pricks in the palm of my hand. I made up stories all the time as a kid, though I was usually too embarrassed to show them to anybody.

As an adult
I've only ever really wanted to be a writer. I studied English Literature at the University of Southern California, and when I graduated, I got a job as a corporate writer at a cable company in Los Angeles, writing manuals and speeches and once even an advertisement for the Gilroy, California Garlic Festival. I got my first story published in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on my first novel, The Crash of Hennington, when I moved to London in 1999. I've lived here ever since. I taught Creative Writing at Oxford University for three years, usually to students older than I was.

As an artist
So far, I've published two books for adults, a novel called The Crash of Hennington and a short story collection called Topics About Which I Know Nothing, a title which seemed funny at the time but less so 10,000 mentions later... Here's a helpful hint if you want to be a writer: When I'm working on a first draft, all I write is 1000 words a day, which isn't that much (I started out with 300, then moved up to 500, now I can do 1000 easy). And if I write my 1000 words, I'm done for the day, even if it only took an hour (it usually takes more, of course, but not always). Novels are anywhere from 60,000 words on up, so it's possible that just sixty days later you might have a whole first draft. The Knife of Never Letting Go is 112,900 words and took about seven months to get a good first draft. Lots of rewrites followed. That's the fun part, where the book really starts to come together just exactly how you see it, the part where you feel like a real writer.

Things you didn't know about Patrick Ness
1. I have a tattoo of a rhinoceros.
2. I have run two marathons.
3. I am a certified scuba diver.
4. I wrote a radio comedy about vampires.
5. I have never been to New York City but...
6. I have been to Sydney, Auckland and Tokyo.
7. I was accepted into film school but turned it down to study writing.
8. I was a goth as a teenager (well, as much of a goth as you could be in Tacoma, Washington and still have to go to church every Sunday).
9. I am no longer a goth.
10. Under no circumstances will I eat onions.

*******

Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Book One of the trilogy, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Booktrust Teenage Prize. The Ask and The Answer, the second book in the trilogy won the Costa Children's Book Award 2009. The third book, Monsters of Men, is released in September 2010.

He has also written a novel (The Crash of Hennington) and a short story collection (Topics About Which I Know Nothing) for adults, has taught Creative Writing at Oxford University, and is a literary critic for the Guardian. Born in Virginia, he lives in London.

Customer Reviews

The writing, the story, and the illustrations are stunning.
Sarah
Painful, poignant, the complexity of the human spirit as it journeys and struggles through grief and loss is truly a beautiful and terrifying story.
BigScreenFan
I only read one review on Goodreads and I knew I had to pick up this book.
Milw. Writer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Darling on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the dark of night, when the house is still, what fears creep into your heart? For Conor O'Malley, his nightmares take the shape of a very old and very dangerous monster who visits him every night at seven minutes past midnight. He's half-convinced that these must be dreams of his fevered mind. But how can they be, when the visits are so vivid and when he finds physical evidence of the monster's existence the next day?

Conor's nightmares begin shortly after his mother starts her treatments for cancer. He's also dealing with a father who lives far away and is engrossed with his new family, a brisk and determined grandma who doesn't understand him, and schoolmates who don't seem to see him anymore. As readers learn more and more about Conor's story and the terrible monster who comes to visit, it is impossible not to feel worry and fear and sadness for this boy, whose must shoulder problems that have toppled many adults before him. But even in his anger and pain, Conor's defiant spirit shows flashes of dry humor and painful hopefulness that are difficult to witness, but make him impossibly endearing.

A Monster Calls is a children's book, but it's a children's book in the way that Roald Dahl or Shel Silverstein wrote children's books--that is, the surface stories are certainly well-written and compelling, but underneath that are the themes of confusion and loneliness and sadness that elevate them to timeless works of literature. And while A Monster Calls chooses to confront its demons more literally than some other books may, it does so with such fierce intelligence and ease that it never feels didactic or forced.

This an incredible book about the enormous burdens of responsibility and grief and loss.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Heidi on September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Five stars: This is a haunting, heartbreaking book that will grab onto your heart strings.

A Monster Calls is one of those books that has the ability to break your heart and touch your soul. On the surface it is supposedly a children's book; one where a monster comes roaring to a window one night. A great, old, wild terrible monster but he is not the horrible nightmare Conor O'Malley has been expecting; for you see he has been haunted repeatedly in his nightmares by something far worse. This horror of his dreams is something so cruel and terrifying he dares not acknowledge it. The monster at his window, who is strangely constructed from the ancient yew tree in the graveyard, imparts three different tales to Conor; three tales of truths. The monster warns that when the last tale has been told Conor must tell his own tale. He must confess his great truth, his greatest fear, or be eaten but he cannot reveal to anyone that which is devouring his soul or can he? Besides the monster is just a dream after all but why is his room mysteriously covered with needles and berries from a yew tree?
Thus, the journey begins. The story opens with thirteen year old Conor bearing the crushing toll of his mother's cancer. He slowly watches as the disease ravishes her body, steals her vitality and hair and sucks away her life. Each day he shoulders more and more of a burden too heavy for a boy his age. At school he has become the invisible boy. Everyone is afraid to speak to him, for he is the boy whose mother has cancer. Day in and day out he endures the whispers and looks of pity, surrounded by people, who inadvertently ignore him because they fear saying the "wrong" thing. Conor is screaming inside for anyone to recognize him, even if it means drawing the attention of a bully.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Milw. Writer on November 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
STOP.
Seriously, don't read any further if you don't want to know my reaction to this novel.
Because this book will grab your mind, body, heart, and soul.
Okay, I warned you.

A Monster Calls SHOULD be read in one sitting. It's so powerful, so painful that it feels like a gaping wound right where your heart is. I only read one review on Goodreads and I knew I had to pick up this book. The author of that review said she cried and cried. I braced myself.
I picked up this book knowing that it would tear at my heart, make me think. About life. About death. It's a book about holding on and letting go. It's about control and losing control. It's about lies and truths. As I said, I braced myself. Only once did I get misty-eyed. I didn't want to cry. But when I finished the last page I paced my living room floor. Dry-eyed. A book like this MUST impact the reader in some way because seriously if it doesn't, I truly would wonder if stone exists in place of a heart. But the real question is what do you DO with a book like this?
I say gobble it up. Take it in. Hold it close. Then. Let. It. Go. Live life with meaning and purpose. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Work on letting go of old hurts. Turn your dreams into action. Don't just talk. DO! Because all we really have to hold onto is what we do in the here and now. I realize it's not an easy way to live all the time. But this book reminds us that life is precious. We can't waste it. That WE are responsible for finding meaning to our own lives and making something special out of it.
That's how I see it. I did warn you.
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