A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

61vtxjtnosl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Information: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness was published in 2011 by Walker Books. ISBN: 1406311529

Plot Summary: Connor has been waiting for something bad to happen. He has terrible nightmares and he knows one day they are going to come true. But then one night, just after midnight, a massive tree like monster comes calling. The monster wasn’t what he had expected at all. Connor’s mom has been sick for a long time and now things have taken a turn for the worst. On top of it all, Connor has a monster appearing to him at night, telling him three stories and demanding Connor tell him the fourth. All Connor wants is for this ancient monster to heal his mom, but the monster wants an even more impossible thing from Connor. He wants the truth. Now Connor must decide whether or not he is brave enough to face his inner truth– his very nightmare.

Critical Evaluation: A Monster Calls is a fantasy retelling of a boy going through grief and loss. So much happens in the mind when it is under stress that as unbelievable as it is for a boy to have a monster visit him at night, it is also equally believable for a young boy like Connor to be convinced that what he’s seeing is real. Ness managed to take the pain and grief of loss and turn into this incredible creature and experience, that even though it wasn’t real, it was still relatable.

Reader’s Annotation: After a series of terrible nightmares and desperate wishes for his mom to get better, an ancient monster comes calling to Connor, demanding his most inner truth.  

Author’s InformationPatrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

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 currently lives in London (Goodreads).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • Would the impact of A Monster Calls have been lessened if Ness had ever used the word “cancer?” Why or why not?
  • Do you think Conor handles his mother’s illness well? Why or why not?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 6-8 (Scholastic) and Ages 13-16

Challenge Issues: Grief, Loss, Violence, Death

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Ness, P. (2011). A Monster Calls. New York, New York: Walker Books.

A Monster Calls presents a very real situation for many kids and people in a very manageable way. The novel opens up a discussion about grief, loss, and the anger those things can cause. Other recommendations like this book include: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd, The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey, and Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Young Adult Literature (2011)
  • Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel (2011)
  • Carnegie Medal (2012)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book: I chose this book for the beautiful way it details working through grief and loss. It is an important discussion to have as many, like Connor, don’t know how to talk about the pain and anger they are experiencing.


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