Title: Rich MitchRich Mitch
Author: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Illustrator: Loretta Lustig
Pages: 136
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★

A month ago I purchased 4 sets of 6 books for $8 total. As the books in each set were bound together, I had no real chance to examine them. A precursory glance at their bindings indicated that they had been published for the most part in the seventies and eighties, but I was unable to really get a good idea of their content. I discarded five of the twenty-four almost immediately, but Rich Mitch along with several other iffy books, were saved for further inquiry.

The Story.

Mitchell Dartmouth has a hobby. It’s not golf. It’s not botany. It’s not collecting stamps. It’s rather more like using stamps – using them on entries to sweepstakes. Because Mitch just knows that somehow, someday, he’s going to win a sweepstakes and then he’ll be rich and famous. He can just see it, now!

Now as in actually now – for real. One day Mitch got a phone call that he’d won the Dazzle-Rama sweepstakes. He’s now worth $ 250,000! Suddenly Mitch is caught up in a whirlwind of TV interviews, promotionals, and meetings. He’s getting letters from people asking for charity and he’s becoming friends with the kids at school who never seemed all that interested in him before.

Is getting rich all it’s cracked up to be?

Discussion.

Rich Mitch is a bit hard to categorize. On one hand, it definitely resembles what I would call “wacky children’s lit” – it’s filled with outrageous circumstances and incidents. The characters are almighty quirky, and parts of the scenario are just unbelievable. But on the other hand, there is a certain human pathos to it.

Mitch’s dream is just that – a dream. He says he wants to win the sweepstakes, but he doesn’t know what that would do to his life. And as he starts to be affected by his new found wealth, he begins to realize the cheapness of it all. He realizes that the rich girl whose attention he once wished to earn, is actually a power-hungry snob, who doesn’t even deserve to be compared with his true friend, Roseanne.

The new possibilities that have been opened up with the money and the attendant responsibilities wear on Mitch. Add to this the fact that he is kind hearted and wants to help people, but doesn’t know who is really in distress and who is just a scam adds to his frustration. In the end, he has helped one woman who was truly in need of his aid, and has thus earned the confidence of his parents.

Yeah, so those last two paragraphs made this story sound really great. Well, it’s not that great because every page, every step of the way is tinged with wackiness. Like when Mitch helps Mrs. Landsdorf, he accidentally lands her on a TV show called Isn’t It Fantastic in which Mrs. Landsdorf’s love for Doberman Pinschers is featured alongside a family who does a stupid dance in a giant chicken costume, a man who refuses to cut his toenails because it goes against nature, and a man who “married a gorilla”. (?!?) Admittedly, Mitch thinks that most of these are wacky, but seriously, why did they even have to be there in the first place?

Mitch tousles with his parents over how the money ought to be spent. Mitch and his older sister get along in patches.

When the television crew announces that they plan to film Mitch’s clothing makeover, Mitch queries, “Wait a minute. Do they go into the dressing rooms? Do they see you in your underwear?” [pg. 41]

Also, Mitch’s new friend, Melissa, writes a poem to Mitch.

“You’ve got a new friend
Her name is Melissa
She won’t turn away
If you try to kiss her.” [pg. 70]

Well then.

Conclusion. So-so. Not horrible, but not so wonderful, either.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *