This is classified as a children’s book but I think that does it a disservice to limit the book only to children. It is an utterly ageless story that is heart-breakingly original and anyone who loves a good story should read it. It is simple, beautiful storytelling about a subject which most of us would struggle for any words. Combined with illustrations that perfectly evoke the story, the atmosphere and the emotions that the book stirs up.
The book opens with Conor O’Malley waking from a recurring nightmare that he has had for weeks. But another nightmare may also have woken up because a monster in the form of a giant yew tree is waiting for Conor outside his window. The monster claims that he has been summoned by Conor and now he must listen to three stories before repaying the monster with one of his own. One he doesn’t want to tell.
The monster visits Conor again the next night to tell the first story. But Conor isn’t afraid of the monster because Conor has other things to be afraid of. His mother is sick and doesn’t seem to be responding to her latest treatments. A bully at school has taken a shine to Conor and won’t leave him alone. His Grandmother wants him to come and live with her. And his father is focused on his new family.
At first the monster’s stories don’t seem to have any meaning for Conor and what is happening in his life but as the monster gets closer to finishing his three stories Conor must confront what his nightmare is; the scariest thing of all – the truth.
The book won the 2012 Carnegie Medal for most outstanding children’s book AND the Kate Greenaway Medal for its illustrations. The first time one book has ever won both awards and I would have thrown every other award at the book too.
Classification: General fiction (Children’s / Teenage)
Format: Paperback (208mm x 162mm x mm)
Imprint: Walker Books Ltd
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publish Date: 2-Feb-2012
Country of Publication: United Kingdom