CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 8 . . . . December 15, 2000
Matthew went into his act. He balanced on chairs and jumped great gaps, he swung to new heights on his trapeze swing, and flew through the air right over the wading pool. All his tricks worked out quite will and his mother was very impressed. But just at the end, as he jumped onto the picnic table to take his bow, he tripped on his cape and fell.Matthew, a little boy with a lively imagination, is putting on a circus show for his mom with the aid of some backyard squirrels. He falls down and scrapes his knee, and one of the squirrels is also hurt. That night Matthew dreams that he and the squirrels are taken to the amazing midnight hospital. The events of the day combine in bizarre ways in Matthew's dream, resulting in a hospital scene full of kazoo-playing nurses, a dramatic midnight surgeon, and an acrobatic squirrel troupe.
The book has a lively, off-beat tone, and the prose rolls along easily and casually. The illustrations fit right in - wacky, witty watercolours by Michael Martchenko. Much of the humour is exaggerated slapstick that appeals to kids, but there is also material that adults will appreciate: Matthew's problems getting his mother out of bed at 6 am, for example, or his mother's eye-rolling expression when he tells her that she could join in the circus act.
Matthew's midnight adventures are fast becoming a popular series, and, while the book is a bit zany at times, it is bound to appeal to kids with active imaginations who long for adventure and excitement in everyday life.
Karen Clay is the head librarian at the William R. Newman Library, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Manitoba.
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