This December Holidays Library Lesson covers winter holidays from all over the world! Features Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Pancha Ganapati, Boxing Day, and La Befana. Includes whole-group library lesson, scrolling slideshow, Recommended Reads, Scavenger Hunt activity, and lesson plan template.

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Review: A Monster Calls (Ness)

AUTHOR: Patrick Ness; based on a concept by Siobhan Dowd; illustrated by Jim Kay
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
PUBLICATION DATE: Sept. 27, 2011
ISBN: 9781406311525
PAGES: 215
SOURCE: my library
GENRE: horror
GIVE IT TO: MS boys and girls

SUMMARY: The monster comes at 12:07, but Conor knows he’s seen worse. The nightmare plaguing him is getting closer, and Conor can’t seem to escape it. The monster says that though Conor is the one who summoned him, it won’t leave until it gets something from Conor. But what the monster wants is impossible: The monster wants the truth.

READALIKES: The Savage (Almond)


  • Overall: 4/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: none
  • Violence: mild; a fight between two boys puts one into the hospital
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none other than drugs to treat cancer

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it. With my endorsement and the book’s inclusion on the 2012-2013 Lone Star Reading List, this one will probably rarely make it all the way to the shelf.

WARNING: The reviews on this site are intended for librarians who need thorough book reviews in order to make informed purchasing decisions. As such, anything below this warning may contain mild spoilers. I try not to give away too much, but I do review the entire book.

WHAT I LIKED: Love the format! We really need more books with gritty illustrations that enhance the story for teen readers. All I have to do is show this one to students, and off it goes.

Lots of suspense. I kept turning pages, desperate to find out what “truth” the monster wants from Conor and what Conor did to make him feel so guilty and deserving of punishment. The fairy tale stories the monster tells are interesting, as are the “lessons” gained from the stories.

A surprisingly beautiful and inspiring read! I expected this to be horror, and it ended up being more sentimental, a story about grief and letting go.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: The only drawback I can see about this one (and the reason I rated it a 4 instead of a 5) is that I do not see A Monster Calls being a huge hit with lots of teen readers. Granted, some will definitely like it and identify with Conor, but I worry that many kids will pick it up, thinking it is a horror novel. After reading the jacket summary, I was ready to sink my teeth into a nice juicy horror novel. Even though Conor spends the entire story frightened, A Monster Calls is not horror. It’s a story about coping with a loved one’s illness and the fear, anger, isolation, and consuming grief that accompany it.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The book will be popular, and middle and high school librarians should definitely purchase it. It’s creative, unique, and at times, a page-turner. However, students looking for a horror novel might be disappointed that A Monster Calls is not about *that* kind of monster.

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