Matthew and the Midnight Hospital


32 pages
ISBN 0-7737-6014-8
DDC jC813'.54




Illustrations by Michael Martchenko

Brenda Baltensperger is a playwright, a director of children’s
theatre, an editor of children’s fiction, and the author of Fractured


The first of these two delightful books, Matthew and the Midnight
Hospital, begins when Matthew decides to put on a circus, with himself
acting as both the ringmaster and the clown. After telling his mother
“You can be my lion,” he goes in search of wild animals in his
backyard. He sees two squirrels jumping from branch to branch and
decides to practise “my act down here while my flying squirrels
perform up there. Shortly after Matthew falls off the picnic table and
scrapes his knee, one of the squirrels falls out of the tree.
Matthew’s mother wraps the squirrel in a towel and places it in a box
in the garage.

That night Matthew is awaked by a siren. He dashes downstairs just in
time to see the squirrel being loaded onto a ambulance. He points out
that he too is injured and joins the squirrel in the ambulance. At the
hospital he learns that the squirrel’s family is the famous Flying
Flingallees trapeze troop. They invite Matthew to join their circus act.
While performing as the human cannonball, Matthew is fired directly back
into his bedroom. The squirrel recovers and is set free the next
morning. This book encourages children to use their imaginations and
teaches that trips in ambulances and to hospital emergency rooms are not
too scary.

Matthew and the Midnight Wrestlers is about Matthew’s attempts to
come to terms with Big Mike, the local bully. As he watches wrestling on
television, Matthew wishes that he were bigger and stronger so that Big
Mike wouldn’t pick on him so much. He draws a picture of himself just
to see how he would look as a wrestler. That night he wakes up and
encounters a man jumping rope outside. The man, a wrestler in training
named Tooloose the Wrecker, invites Matthew to be his tag team partner.
Accompanied by Tooloose the Wrecker and Harry the Horse, Matthew
(renamed Slap Dash the Masher) goes to the Wrestling Gallery, where it
is just as important to be a good artist as it is to be a good wrestler.
While waiting his turn, Matthew downs a glass of Wrestler’s Juice,
which tastes suspiciously like milk. Matthew and his partner win their
bout; their opponent turns out to be Big Mike. In this unique picture
book, art is presented as an alternative to violence. Recommended.


Morgan, Allen., “Matthew and the Midnight Hospital,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,