Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians

Plot Summary
Lunch Lady is passionate about her job, wanting the school children to get proper nutrition from her lunches, as well as learn about what they’re eating. Because of this dedication, it’s no surprise that she’s also an undercover superhero, protecting the school from evil! She has a variety of food-related gear and weapons at her disposal, like Sonic Boom Juice Boxes, Hover Pizzas, and Taco-vision Night Goggles. When the librarians steal other departments’ funds and plot to take over the world, the Breakfast Bunch seek out Lunch Lady for help. Will they be able to keep the librarians from destroying all the video games?

Critical Analysis
Lunch Lady is the main character, but it’s hard to really identify with her. Then again, she is a superhero, and it’s hard to ever really know the truth about superheroes. Betty is her sidekick, both in the lunchroom and when fighting evil. Dee, Hector, and Terrence are the students who know Lunch Lady is a superhero, and they make up the Breakfast Bunch. The kids are fun and realistically portrayed, and I think young readers could easily see themselves in these characters.

The Breakfast Bunch has a feeling the librarians are up to something, so they tip off Lunch Lady, who starts investigating on her own. The librarians have been stealing money from the school’s other departments, like the cheerleaders, and want to destroy all video games so children will have to read books. Can the Lunch Lady and her lunch-related gadgets beat the librarians and their book weapons?

Most of the book takes place in the school, which will draw in readers because they can identify with the setting, and picture the events occurring in their own school. Lunch Lady’s turf is, of course, the lunchroom, and the Read-a-thon takes place in the library. The showdown between Lunch Lady and the librarians takes place on the docks, where the video game shipment is delivered. The illustrations really bring the settings to life, without being so detailed that readers can’t use their own imaginations.

Since Lunch Lady is a superhero and the problems she faces are a bit fantastical, it’s hard to pinpoint a theme in these graphic novels. Lunch Lady is fighting for what is right for the school and the students, but she does so by using weapons - clever, lunch-themed weapons, sure, but weapons nonetheless - and violence.

Graphic novels have more illustrations than typical illustrated novels, and the pictures actually help move the story along. I think young readers, whether they enjoy reading or not, would like picking up extra elements to the story that are somewhat hidden in the illustrations. Krosoczka uses black and white drawings with minimal shading and color - only yellow inside the book, and yellow, green, and purple on the cover. I think the lack of color and matte pages make this book stand out over more traditional comic books. It looks more like a novel, which probably makes kids feel more accomplished reading it than they do with flimsier comic books.

Personal Response
I have read Lunch Lady books #2 and #5. They seem to be very popular in our library system, because I haven’t been able to get my hands on book one! Luckily, the early books seem easy to pick up and read without the overall context of the series, though I’ve seen that they get more involved as the series progresses. I intended to start from the beginning and read them all, because they’re quick, amusing reads.
     In all fairness, I have to say this wasn’t my favorite Lunch Lady book, just because I’m biased - I prefer print books! I’m not saying that people shouldn’t play video games, but I was more on the side of the “evil” librarians than Lunch Lady in this case!

Reviews & Awards
Booklist gives the series a rave review, saying “This tongue-in-cheek superheroine graphic novel will hit the spot for chapter-book readers. […] Little details invite and reward repeat readings with visual as well as verbal punning.” The books have been “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers” by Kid’s Indie Next List, a “Cooperative Children’s Book Center” choice, and repeatedly nominated for the New York State Charlotte Award.

Connections & Activities
Graphic novels are a great way to get kids interested in reading. Because they have panels like comics, I feel like kids will be drawn to them (no pun intended!) because they look fun. Many graphic novels for children and young adults are series, so once readers get to know a character, they can follow along for many different adventures! Be sure to check out:
     The rest of the Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
     Babymouse by sister-brother team Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
     Squish also by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
     The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier (Thrilled one of my childhood favorites is back - now as a graphic novel!)

Read it for yourself!
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. 2009. Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780375946844


  1. Hi, Allison! I'm a HUGE fan of the Lunch Lady Series! I love how Krosoczka opts for simple illustrations (isn't the black and white with yellow accents so chic) and texts, leaving the elaboration to the plot and gadgets. Nugget bombs, smoking cans of peas, ravioli binoculars, fishstick nunchucks - so innovative! I actually included the first book in the summer reading program, and the entire series in a collection development project. I came up with a week of lesson plans for it, actually; they're posted on the board. If you like the author, check out the Platypus Police Squad series. Happy reading!

    1. Nekeeta - Thanks for the recomendation; can't wait to check out the Platypus series! I've read several in this series and you're right, they're so great to read by exploring what isn't said. I'll also check out your lesson plan - your summer reading project sounds awesome!