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You know that kid in your class who is always sucking up to the teacher? That could be the Mellower. His full time job is praising his boss. Now before you go rolling your eyes, we should tell you that the Mellower is actually a kind-hearted guy, and he seems to genuinely care about the Matsikas.
It's not until the kids are kidnapped that Mrs. Matsika realizes how much the Mellower needs them: "he's almost a child himself, she thought. And he needs Praise just as much as the rest of us. Somehow she never thought of his having needs" (5.49). He gets a lot more than a hot meal and a roof over his head from praising—the Mellower enjoys spending time with the kids.
That's why he's in such a tough position when his own mom wants to cash in on their kidnapping. He doesn't want his own mother to go to prison, but at the same time, he wants Tendai, Rita, and Kuda to get home safely. He's certainly between a rock and a hard place. In the end, the Mellower stands up for the kids, while keeping the police out of it. We can tell he cares a lot about family, and that includes the Matsikas.