Review by Ian Keogh
Lunch Lady has become a firm favourite with young kids across the USA, starring the never actually named Lunch Lady fighting crime both inside and outside her school. Inside is preferable as she has access to her headquarters and monitoring equipment deep beneath, and also her friend Betty, designer of assorted food-based devices. Because Jarrett J. Krosoczka produces the books in grey and pale yellow, these all involve yellow coloured food (or near enough) like hover pizzas and fish stick nunchucks.
This first 2 for 1 Special combines the beginnings of the series in Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute and Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians, introducing the main characters. Audience identification is provided by Dee, Hector and Terrence, three plucky young children who discover Lunch Lady’s secrets in the first story. Fortunately they’re good kids, not like Milmoe and his henchman, and so those secrets stay secret.
These books show plenty of threats to the school, although both here and as the series continues, jealousy is a prime motivation for underhand activity. The cyborg substitute teacher is part of a plot to undermine the popularity of the maths teacher, and the librarians prize books and resent children spending time with games.
Because he’s aiming at a young audience, Krosoczka keeps the art simple, and has a goofy, funny style. Distractions are few as the object is to keep those pages turning, not have kids study the art. He’s at his best when mayhem erupts, and there’s a consistent energy to silly sequences of the Lunch Lady in her apron and rubber gloves (both yellow, of course).
Millions of kids love Lunch Lady, whether buying the books or as part of their school library, and while the better books are to come, there’s more than enough evidence of why they’re loved here. 2 for 1: Second Helping combines the next two books in the series.