Themes and Characters
In this novel, Bellairs deftly conveys the unhappiness that Anthony Monday feels when he senses that his parents are having financial or personal difficulties, and he captures the torment that a young person can suffer at the hands of cruel schoolmates or unthinking teachers. Anthony enjoys less warmth at home than Bellairs's other young heroes do. His mother, Ginny, continually worries over the family's shaky finances, and Anthony responds by wishing desperately that he could help.
Anthony finds solace in an understanding and sympathetic older person who serves as a surrogate parent. Miss Eells, the somewhat bumbling town librarian, offers Anthony a part-time job at the library and, more importantly, serves as a friend and confidante when his mother cannot give him the assurances he needs.
Under the moon face was a stone banner, and on it these words were carved: BELIEVE ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU READ.
When Anthony's father suffers a heart attack, Mrs. Monday's sense of the family's financial difficulties intensifies, and Anthony becomes even more desperate to help the family. Anthony discovers clues in the library that indicate that Alpheus Winterborn, Hoosac's deceased eccentric millionaire, may have left behind a hidden treasure. Anthony embarks on a search for the money, only to find that Winterborn's nephew, the local banker Hugo Philpotts, is also looking for it. After a series of adventures and misadventures, both searchers end up at the library within reach of the fortune. But a tremendous storm is threatening Hoosac, and the town is in danger of being flooded. It is finally Anthony's determination to help his family, in combination with Hugo's greed, that decides the fate of the treasure.