Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super Heroes in Aprons

Being able to eat lunch served in the cafeteria was a big deal when I was in school.  Our family was on a very tight budget so we ate brown bag lunches almost every single day from first grade through high school.  On those rare occasions when I was given money to eat lunch in the school cafeteria, I saved it until the noon hour macaroni and cheese was served.  To this day I've never tasted macaroni and cheese as delicious as served by those wonderful cooks.

I often wondered if they included a secret ingredient to make the flavor and texture so mouth-watering good.  In the summer of 2009 when the first Lunch Lady graphic novel entered the world, my previous thoughts of mysterious powers held by those culinary folks in the kitchen were confirmed,  All nine titles since that day, Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta, Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown, Lunch Lady and the Bake Sale Bandit, Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco, Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes, Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril, and Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain, have all been leading up to the final episode in this phenomenal series, Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle (Alfred A. Knopf) written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Everybody freeze!  This is a robbery!
Put all your cash in the bags and nobody gets hurt!
He's getting away!
C'mon! We've got the loot.  Let's get outta here!
We're filthy rich!

As if this latest crime spree of bank robberies isn't enough, things at Thompson Brook School are getting progressively worse.  Lunch Lady and her partner, Betty, are noticeable absent.  The new Superintendent Dr. Van Grindheimer, with her administrative cohorts, Vice Principal Pasteur and Principal Edison, and a strange new teaching staff, have the Breakfast Bunch crew, Hector, Dee and Terrence, and even Milmoe angry and worried.  Classes are being eliminated and the new rules are absolutely medieval.

On the whispered advice of the school custodian, Kalowski, the trio visit a local burger joint.  Betty, working at the counter there, finally leaps into action.  Arriving at Lunch Lady's apartment more than one startling discovery is made.  Two teams leave ready to thwart the as-yet-unknown plan of the evil Dr. Van Grindheimer.

Astonishing apples!  What's up with The League of Librarians!?  Terrifying tomatoes!  What's that you say about the treadmills?!  Monstrous melons!  Lunch Lady, Betty and the Breakfast Bunch need a plan in place now!

At Thompson Brook School students fill the hallways like rising bread.  Enemies appear in every corner like hot-popped corn.  As the sun sets and the moon climbs skyward, the fate of all falls on Lunch Lady (and her groovy gadgets).

Holy ravioli! Indeed.

Words and phrases readers have come to know and appreciate are present on every page.  Jarrett J. Krosoczka serves up a narrative spiced with spirit, determination, evil exclamations and of course, food.  Readers are in the middle of each moment, tied together with

In Principal Edison's office...
After school...
The next morning...  or
Throughout the day... .

His characters never disappoint in their zeal for good or bad making this latest installment a true page-turner.  What more could readers want than a boiler room, hidden behind a sliding refrigerator, filled with enough technology to rival the Bat Cave, Electronic Bananarangs, a beastly school bus or enough POW!, HIYAAAH! and ZAP! to make their hearts pound?  Here's a single dialogue exchange between Lunch Lady and Betty.

Oh my.  Hard-boiled egg for
breakfast.  Hard-boiled egg for lunch.
And for dinner---a slab of steak,
cooked rare.
Just as I
a tough

Using ink on paper with digital coloring Jarrett J. Krosoczka's signature black, white and yellow images fill the panels with animated movement and emotion.  Visuals vary in size, sometimes several on a single page; others occupy the entire page edge to edge.  If necessary to the plot smaller, narrower pictures cross the gutter extending across two pages.  When a single illustration covers double pages a crescendo is reached in the narrative.

Outlines around speech bubbles reveal the emphasis and volume of the speakers.  Tiny labels with arrows pointing to the gadgets add to the sense of adventure and humor.  It's hard to pick a favorite but a surprise greeted with cheers by the students has a single word on the small corner image,


Whether you are new to the series or a faithful reader of all ten books, Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a riveting romp of a ride right down to the final panel.  I read it in a single sitting, closed the cover and started it all over again.  These books have brought guys and gals into the reading community for nearly five years.  I applaud you Jarrett J. Krosoczka for the quality of your writing and illustrating and for being an integral part of children's literature.  Our world needs a hero who can serve lunch and justice.

For those of you who wish to know more about Jarrett J. Krosoczka and his other titles, follow the link to his website embedded in his name above.  There is an official Lunch Lady website linked above also.  It contains many types of resources and links to the publisher's website where you can peek inside other books in the series.  Have fun reading these Ten Random Facts About the Lunch Lady Series.  Enjoy the videos below.

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