Review By ROBYN MOORE
The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach begins in the cafeteria, where Mitch’s classmates are eating the standard American diet of pizza, French fries, and chicken fingers (this is a sad commentary on our schools today, where most cafeterias serve processed junk food). Mitch pulls out his Nutripak, filled with organic fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. He mixes it all into his portable blender, and out comes the Mitch Spinach Super Smoothie (but kids should know that you don’t need a portable blender to eat healthy)! Mitch’s super athletic abilities, extraordinary vision and hearing, and brain power—all of which are admired by his classmates at Sunchoke Elementary—are a testament to his healthy diet.
Mitch receives a special note from Principal Lycopene requesting Mitch’s help solving a mystery. Someone keeps breaking into the school custodian, Mr. Habanero’s supply closet and making a big mess. Using his keen senses, Mitch solves the mystery! The culprits are a scared mother cat and her kittens, who have taken up residence in the closet. Mr. Habanero ends up adopting the cats. This would’ve been the perfect place to throw in a reference about the companion-animal overpopulation crisis, but understandably, you can’t fit every issue into one book!
I was impressed by how much was squeezed into this book, including the teaching points in the appendix, which explain the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and a recipe for Mitch’s Super Smoothie, which I think kids will be eager to try. It’s a timely story that addresses the benefits of eating healthy in a world that is slowly creeping into the crisis stage of an obesity epidemic.
A website accompanies the book. It includes a fan club, games, lesson plans, recipes (all vegan), and merchandise. Let’s hope that there’s a Mitch Spinach craze like there was for Elmo … kids could use a good role model.
On another note, I could easily see this story being adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon series. Kids would definitely tune in to watch Mitch Spinach solve a new mystery each week. Perhaps the show can open with Mitch Spinach asking the kids to grab their favorite fruit to snack on while they watch?