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Volume VIII Number 10 . . . . January 18, 2002
When Matthew's mother is too busy paying bills to play "Secret Monopoly," Matthew's creative version of that game, Matthew plays for her. But, she loses. Matthew begins to worry about his mother and their financial position. In an attempt to help his mother, Matthew does what any child might do. He tries to grow money by planting a penny under a bush. Despite his mother's reassurances that they have enough money and that it will grow in the bank, Matthew's worries follow him into his sleep. In his dreams, Matthew picks money bags from the money bush in the back yard, plays Monopoly at the Midnight Bank with a man named Fargo, and foils an attempted bank robbery by some "dangerous pigeons." As a reward for preventing the crime, Matthew is given one of the bank's mega coins. He shares the coin with Fargo, pays off his mother's debts, and still has money left over. Unfortunately, Matthew's mother is not convinced of their financial freedom when she hears the story in the morning.
In this story, the child excels at the expense of adults. Matthew is the responsible person in the story. He acts or imagines to "change" his mother's financial situation by trying to grow money. He "picks the money" from the money bush. He enters into a partnership with Fargo to play Monopoly at the Bank. He is responsible for stopping bank robbers. Self-esteem is a central message in this story. A child can "change" the circumstances of his life and the lives of those around him.
Humour abounds in the text and illustrations of this book. Both the language of the book and the illustrations ably convey the chaos of the situation at the Midnight Bank. Through the illustrations, the reader has a good sense of the chaotic joy of living in the present, an aspect of a happy childhood. Emotional bonds and moral characteristics are also presented in the illustrations. Moreover, the final illustration is essential to the ending of the story as it implies that Matthew's mother has engaged in his imaginary world.
Matthew and the Midnight Bank is a humorous book that will be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
Denise Weir is a consultant with Manitoba Culture, Heritage, and Tourism, Public Library Services. Her background includes developing children's programming projects and school librarianship.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.