Monday, December 17, 2012

A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness
inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd
illustrated by Jim Kay
Candlewick | 2011
Buy now!

Thirteen-year-old Conor has been recently plagued with a recurring nightmare, has a mom who is sick and isn't doing so well, a grandmother he doesn't really understand, and a father who is off in the U.S. living with his new wife. School is a problem as the bullies bother Conor each day; pretty much nothing is going well.

Conor also has a yew tree outside his window. One night, it turns into a giant monster and visits him. Slowly, over time, as the monster tells Conor three stories, he finds out what the monster wants -- why it has called on him.

My description here is purposely vague. To say much else would ruin the book, I think. Suffice it to say, this is a book for everyone and especially for any person (perhaps 12 years old and up) dealing with something difficult. Social workers and school counselors -- read and figure out if you have clients and students who might benefit from reading and discussing this special book.

Author Siobhan Dowd had the characters, premise, and a beginning for this story, which would've been her fifth book, but she died before she could write it. Ness was asked to write it in her stead, which he has done in her memory and with aplomb. Kay's illustrations are nothing short of phenomenal and the design of the book is something quite special from the silver foil on the cover to the yew-leaf covered end papers to the heavy gloss paper.

Clearly, I like this one a lot. I think you will too.

I know this looks terribly scary, but in context, the illustrations are perfect and in some odd way, not scary at all.

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