CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 34 . . . . May 4, 2012
Every child dreams of having his or her own room. The main character of this book is no exception, but it seems like this dream will never come true for Matthew. Although his mother promises that he will get his own room in their new home, different situations keep cropping up to prevent it. First, it's an uncle from out of town, then an aunt and her dogs, then five more cousins. Exasperated, Matthew decides to sleep outside, but the black flies force him to go back inside. Finally, taking matters into his own hands, Matthew gets help from some bears who go into the trailer and chase away all the guests. The book ends with Matthew enjoying a peaceful sleep in his own bed, with bears on both sides of him.
Robert Munsch continues to put hilarious spins on everyday situations. What starts out as a common problem (sharing a room) becomes worse and worse until it is ridiculously impossible to solve. As with many of Munsch's main characters, Matthew singlehandedly concocts a plan, ventures out on his own and executes the plan successfully. His mother and other relatives have very minor roles in this story, making Matthew the book's star.
Michael Martchenko's illustrations add lots of extra details for readers to look at. Children will find humour in Matthew's facial expressions as his bedroom becomes more and more crowded with animals and relatives. Several of the pictures show Matthew completely out of scale: he is sometimes shown to be very small and overpowered by everything around him, or very large compared to the three bears he brings back to the trailer. These different perspectives help to show how Matthew feels and how he progresses from being a victim to becoming a hero.
In typical Munsch style, the text contains lots of exclamations and patterns that children will pick up and join in with. This book is missing the sound effects that are so common in his other stories. On another note, it is interesting that the family unit consists of a single parent and only child, along with lots of extended family rather than the nuclear family that is usually depicted. Setting the story in a trailer park is another departure from the usual suburban settings found in most Munsch books. Both the characters and the setting allow children to see different types of families and homes being represented in their reading material.
Claire Perrin is a teacher-librarian with the Toronto District School Board.
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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.