By Patrick Ness
Original idea by Siobhan Dowd
Illustrations by Jim Kay
What does it take to consider a book as a classic? Does it require it to be read by at least a few generation of readers? Or does it announce itself with a bang that cannot be mistaken for anything other than being a classic? A Monster Calls announces itself early on, very early on - that it is a ready to be considered as a classic - a tear jerker, an emotional wringer of a tale, a tale that tells us to face the truth, that we are all aware of, but refuse to accept. A tale which would open up the flood gates of our own anxiety and tears.
Conor is a good, frightened(A diversion here - although these two words do not go together always - many times we remain good because we are frightened - frightened to fight back, frightened that we will hurt some one, frightened that we will hurt ourselves) boy living under the shadow of his mother's cancer. He tries to be the best kid for his mother, but he has his secrets - which he considers as dark, very dark. One night a monster walks into his life and decides to tell him 3 stories. The stories which are baffling and seem to veer away from what is the established right or wrong. The monster makes him tell his own story - his own dark secret - as the final story. The monster wants the truth.
Patrick Ness keeps you guessing - what can be more nightmarish than a monster walking into a almost-teenager's life at mid-night? What is the truth? What is so frightening that the kid is hesitant even to discuss with a scary monster?
While his not-so nightmarish incidents occur with the monster, his life outside goes on - his mother's medical condition gets more serious, he gets bullied by his school mates, teachers look at him with sympathy, he irritates the only friend he has in the school and his estranged father decides to pay him a visit.
The book could not have worked as well as it did - if not for the creepy, nightmarish illustrations that accompany the writing. The illustrations by Jim Kay are exceptional and painted in dark black and white. It is almost a metaphor for the fact that life is not always in black or white - it has shades of grey and multitude of other colours - but, these refuse to make an appearance in the book.
Probably the only book to have won both the Kate Greenway Award for illustrations and Carnegie Medal for writing in the same year(2012)- there is absolutely no doubt that this book will be a classic. A classic that will be read by kids and adults alike.