where all things literacy come full circle…

A Monster Calls: A Reaction!


A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd


Author: Patrick Ness

Illustrator: Jim Kay

Copyright Date: 2011

Hook: The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.

Summary: At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. (from

Reaction: I found this book through the Nerdy Book Club, which was an Middle Grade winner, and heard a ton of positive praise. I also heard how crushing and emotional the book was as well. I read this book, all 224 pages in a few sittings. When I had the last two chapters left to read, I waited. I couldn’t find myself reading them because I didn’t want to feel Conor’s hurt. I have rarely read a book that has stayed with me after I have read it. This book has.

            The characters in the book are written so well that each character seems real. This is a mark of great writing! You get to know Conor, a young lad who is filled with so much hurt and loneliness that you feel for him. The reader seriously feels for him throughout his journey. The grandmother has a tough exterior she throws around but deep inside she is hurting at the eminent loss of her daughter. You feel for the mum and her pain as she goes through the last few weeks of mortality. I cared and loved these characters.

            The plot somewhat reminded me of a classic story. The classic Dickens’ Christmas Carol with the idea of ghosts showing Scrooge the way to change his life. This story kept coming to mind as I read this story. I am curious if anyone else had any connections to any other book. 

            I hope that everyone will get a chance to read this book. It is a painful journey because you seriously walk beside Conor through his journey. It’s painful, it’s slow, and it’s heavy. And, maybe you will discover your truth as well.


  1. Predict what will happen to Conor after the story ends?
  2. Explain how the monster helps Conor through this journey?
  3. Why do you believe his father shows up during this time?
  4. Do you think being invisible, as Conor was, would be a good thing? Can you think of anyone you may know who is like Conor?
  5. Can you think of any connections of other books or movies that are like this story

Writing: In what ways could you use this book in teaching writing? Character development could be one way. The characters in this book seem so real. Another way is plot development. Another excellent way to teach students is dialogue. The author writes excellent dialogue, which shows character development and moves the story forward, in this book.


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