Children’s Books: Recommended read – ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakes in bed one night to discover that the yew tree outside his house has transformed into a terrifying monster. After threatening to eat him, the monster announces that he will tell Conor three stories, at the end of which Conor must tell him ‘the truth’. But the truth scares Conor much more than the monster, because the truth has something to do with his mum’s illness – the only thing that Conor is afraid of.
Who’s it for?
Ten to 16-year-olds, myth lovers, and anyone grappling with their own monsters.
Why should I read it?
A Monster Calls would have been the fifth book by Siobhan Dowd, who died of breast cancer in 2007. Patrick Ness took over the basic premise and characters and turned Siobhan’s story into an almost unbearably moving portrayal of what it’s like to watch someone you love endure a terrible illness. But it’s also incredibly scary and, at times, incredibly funny. The monster’s three stories – which are worth reading in themselves – draw strongly on folklore, but always have an unexpected twist at the end of the tale. Conor is a wonderfully empathetic hero and your heart can’t fail to go out to him as he contends with school bullies, an absent father, an icy grandmother and not one, but two monsters. Patrick Ness won the 2012 Carnegie Medal for the story, while illustrator Jim Kay was awarded the Greenaway Medal for his spine-tingling illustrations.
Best character: The yew tree monster, for being as comforting as he is terrifying.
Best line: ‘Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?’
If I like this, what other books might I like?
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
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Follow Rebecca on Twitter @TheStoryMonsterTagged in: A Monster Calls, Annabel Pitcher, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd
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