________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005


Morgan Makes a Deal. (First Novels, No. 33).

Ted Staunton. Illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2005.
59 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-666-X (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-667-8 (cl.).

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4



Monday after school there are twenty-one papers and a carrier waiting for me. I know how many papers because Mom makes me count them. She says I have to do that every day. Then she helps me fold them and comes around to make sure everything goes all right.

I guess it does, except my paper route sure takes a long time. It's snowing and it's cold. My scarf gets all soggy across my mouth. The bag is heavy. Mom won't let me throw the papers like they do in the movies; she makes me stick them between the doors. I can hear a big dog growling in one house. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. And when I tell Mom, she says, "We'll be home soon."


When Morgan's friend, Charlie, gets the new "Skateboards on Mars" video game for his birthday, Morgan wants one too, but, since it is past Christmas and a long time before Morgan's birthday, his dad suggests that Morgan earn the money by getting an after-school paper route. The seeming bane of Morgan's life, Aldeen Hummell, aka the Godzilla of Grade Three, has become more of a fixture in Morgan's life because his mother is providing after school care for Aldeen until her mother can pick her up. For Morgan, the paper route becomes not just a source of the needed monies but, he thinks, a way of avoiding Aldeen. However, delivering 21 papers over three streets in the cold of winter becomes an onerous chore for Morgan, and, when he frequently fails to deliver one or more papers, his increasingly frustrated mother must drive over the missing newspapers. Morgan's access to Charlie's video game is blocked when Charlie's parents prohibit him from playing it until his math marks improve. Charlie's situation provides Morgan with an opportunity to make a deal: Morgan, who sees himself as a good student in math, will help Charlie with his math if Charlie will do Morgan's paper route.

     Morgan's math help, however, simply consists of giving Charlie his homework to copy. When Aldeen observes Charlie copying Morgan's math homework, she insists, upon threat of both telling on him and "pound[ing] the snot out of [him]," on having the same copying privilege. While Morgan's strategy appears to work for Charlie's daily work and leads to the boys' again having access to Charlie's video game, Morgan has not anticipated the math test their teacher, Mrs. Ross, announces. The situation deteriorates for Morgan as Charlie abandons his deal with Morgan who must resume his route, and then Morgan's mother makes him share his paperwork pay with both Charlie and Aldeen, the latter having occasionally shown up on the route and made Morgan count his papers pre-delivery to ensure that he hadn't been shorted. Staunton supplies a somewhat surprising ending while revealing a softer side of Aldeen than has been previously shown.

     Slavin's full-page cartoon-style illustrations again add to this occasionally convoluted story while contributing to the characterization.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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