Review by Ian Keogh
This second helping of combined Lunch Lady books pairs one of the series best with a weaker outing.
Starting with the latter, The Summer Camp Shakedown will work for younger kids who haven’t already read numerous summer camp stories including the same elements Jarrett J. Krosoczka features. However, for anyone else, it’s not greatly original, and originality has been a series strength. Removing Lunch Lady from the school to the summer camp restricts her activities, and the new characters playing out the plot of a monster loose in the camp are all bland. The theme is also very much a Scooby Doo one, with Dee, Hector and Terrence recast as the Scooby gang. Krosoczka is mindful of the young audience at whom the Lunch Lady books are aimed, though, and the monster’s not that scary.
The Author Visit Vendetta is far funnier, a series highlight in fact. As the title reveals, the creator of Flippy Bunny visits the school to discuss their work, and Krosoczka supplies a rib-tickling parody of the pompous author, demanding and full of himself. Soon after the visit the school’s gym teacher goes missing, and a little investigation by the Lunch Lady reveals that he’s not the only one. For readers who care about the characters, the big dilemma is whether or not Terrence can make the football team with school bully Milmoe as captain. Krosoczka pulls the two plots together very neatly, in serving up a real joy.
2 for 1 Special: The First Helping was the series introduction, and this is Krosoczka moving beyond an effective idea to include themes. Now established, for instance, is the pre-title page sequence of the Lunch Lady dealing with criminals in the wider world, neat parodies of action cinema and always a delight. It’s to be assumed a third 2 for 1 Special will follow.