9 of 10: The Lunch Lady series is one of my very favorite set of graphic novels. High kid appeal, fun stories, clever gadgets – what’s not to love?
One thing that breaks my heart at my school libraries is the kid who won’t check anything out. They say, “Everything’s boring/I don’t like to read/I can’t find anything I like” and they walk away empty handed. I’m not going to force a kid to check out book, but I do want to help them find something they can enjoy, something that will turn them on to reading.
Happily, I’ve had great success with some of my reluctant readers with the Lunch Lady books. They sit on the shelf for approximately ten seconds (or sometimes don’t even get out of the return basket) before they’re snatched back up.
I love these books. The illustrations (all done in black, white, gray, and yellow) are darling. The story line moves quickly (each book is only about 90 pages), and they’re just plain funny.
The basic premise is that the lunch lady, when she’s not busy serving up sloppy joes and pizza in the cafeteria, is also a self-appointed secret agent, of sorts, scoping out the bad guys at the school, catching robbers around town at night, and generally keeping things under control.
Her sidekick is the lunch lady’s helper, Betty, who, behind the freezer door has a giant lab set up where she develops new crime-fighting tools, such as “Taco Night Vision Goggles” and “Lunch Tray Laptop.” I giggle to myself every time they pull out a new invention – they’re all so hilariously silly and clever.
The second book is called Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, where the librarians are attempting to steal all the video games in town to encourage reading. Lunch Lady to the rescue of course. One kid picked it up off the shelf, read the back, and then turned to me to say, “I don’t think you’ll like this book very much.” I figure the librarian practically always gets to be the hero – we can be the bad guys once in a while.
The fourth book in the series, Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown, comes out this spring, and it’s probably my least favorite of the series, although still cute. I am thrilled to see these books doing so well in both of my libraries, and kids asking for more books like them. No need to steal the video games when you have books with such mega kid-appeal.
At ALA, I got some advance copies of both the third and fourth books and after I read them, I used them as prizes for the third grade. Wow, were they popular! Also, was I “Librarian of the Century” that day, or what? It was awesome.