Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"This was the nightmare that woke him up screaming every night. This was it happening, right now, right here. He was on the cliff edge, bracing himself, holding onto his mother's hands with all his strength, trying to keep her from being pulled down in the blackness, pulled down by the creature below the cliff."
Connor O'Malley is haunted by a pervasive nightmare. Making repeated appearances around midnight or midday, a monster takes shape claiming to have been summoned by Connor himself and recounting four stories throughout the course of the book. Each tale reflects and refracts aspects of Connor’s life and preoccupations.
Connor has little respite in his home or school lives. At home he is contending with his mother's illness, and the chemotherapy that she undergoes. At school, he is mercilessly bullied. As a consequence of this, an enormous reservoir of uncapped emotion builds within Connor.
One of the impressive things about this book is the way it captures the means through which grief, fear and foreboding can manifest themselves in ways that feel difficult to express or even to chart. Without the ability to measure this, it becomes hard to contain and control. What the book explores with such subtlety and effectiveness are the ways in which stories can interweave with elements of our lives, providing context, understanding and ultimately even a sense of catharsis.
Richly detailed and totally absorbing, this is a dramatic and emotionally charged novel guaranteed to make a long lasting impact on readers. The story of its creation is fascinating and affecting in and of itself. Created from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, who tragically died of cancer prior to its completion, the book was written by Patrick Ness. With its subject matter and background, it feels apt to explore it on World Cancer Day, recognising and better understanding the impact the condition has on both sufferers and those close to them.
"Amazing many- layered storyline, brilliant illustrations. A modern classic. This book has proved THE most popular with my reading intervention groups and we have almost had students coming to fisticuffs to borrow it! "