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My Name Is Mitch

by Shelagh Lynn Supeene

Waterloo author Shelagh Lynne Supeene’s debut children’s novel My Name Is Mitch takes an affably humorous, discerning look at some of the problems of growing up: classroom bullies, learning difficulties, and family conflict. Her novel will be especially appealing to kids like Mitch, the sixth-grader narrator, who knows only too well what it’s like to be the designated target of the class bully.

Supeene has created 11-year-old Mitch with comic flair and truth. He radiates the qualities of a real kid: a keen observer with a snappy sense of gallows humour, he’s smarter than he realizes. His good-natured narration, studded with perceptive, amusing comments, is a believable muddle of understanding and bafflement. Supeene’s clear, engaging prose and accessible short chapters should draw in readers as reluctant as Mitch is himself.

Mitch, short for his age and a problem reader, is nicknamed “midget-brain” by Philip the class bully. Philip’s scornful razzing and tormenting heats up after Mitch is ordered to attend a special-ed reading class where he has to deal with the mortification of being partnered with a first-grader whose reading ability is way beyond his. Until this year, Mitch’s family life has been his buffer zone – with the exception of his grumpy grandpa who has never forgiven Mitch’s mother for having a baby out of wedlock at age 16. But that supportive family harmony is threatened by the reappearance of his birth father, called “The Creep” by Mitch’s tough-minded, loving mother.

Unfortunately, Supeene’s story loses its comic astringency and tension in the last third of the novel. Every edge of conflict is too easily smoothed over in a warm, fuzzy fantasy of fulfilment that doesn’t do justice to the knottiness of Mitch and his life.


Reviewer: Sherie Posesorski

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers


Price: $8.95

Page Count: 176 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55143-255-2

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 2003-10


Age Range: ages 9-12