Parents' Guide to

A Monster Calls

By Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Haunting tale of a boy coming to terms with mother's cancer.

A Monster Calls Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 15+

Wish I would have known

What others have said about this book is true, however I wish I would have known about the highly innapropiate part. In one of the stories that the monster tells the boy, a prince and a farmer’s daughter hide under the monster tree. I quote, “ but their passions got the better of them, and it was not long before they were asleep and naked in each other’s arms.” Later in the night, the prince murders the girl he just had sex with by stabbing her with a knife and frames the queen for the crime. I wish someone, somewhere would have mentioned this. I think it’s a big enough deal for parents to know this happens when deciding whether to let their teen read this book. There are also a few swear words. This has been said before, but it is a very dark and a very sad story.
age 12+

A Monster Calls has given us so much to talk and think about

13-yr old Conor has so much to deal with right now: mum's protracted battle with cancer, absent dad who left the country to start a new family, targeted by a sociopathic bully at school, rift-distanced best friend, overly efficient gran in suit pants, murderous nightmares, and a tree monster trying to haunt him. I don't usually like it when there's more plight than plot, but everything about this book ripped my heart out, in a good way: drawings, characters, fears and feelings, and most of all the coping with fear of feelings. My two 12-yr olds both loved reading this also, and that so rarely happens in our house. We love the story, and the stories in the story, and that things aren't as they seem.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7 ):
Kids say (25 ):

Children will be swept up into this honest and compelling story of a boy dealing with his mother's imminent death. Adults might be interested to know that Ness, author of the award-winning Chaos Walking trilogy, wrote this book based on an idea by writer and Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, who died of cancer at the age of 47. Supported by Jim Kay's dramatic pen-and-ink illustrations, the story is driven forward by the giant yew tree that comes to life with the express purpose of haunting Conor. One of the most interesting monsters in modern literature -- menacing but somehow protective, fierce and also funny -- he makes Conor's pain more bearable by giving the boy something tangible to fight against. Ness does an amazing job of transforming this difficult subject into a moving tribute to love and loss.

Book Details

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