Review by Ian Keogh
In the manner of a TV show pre-title sequence, Jarrett J. Krosoczka begins every Lunch Lady book with Lunch Lady dealing with some unfortunate crooks, always in ski masks. This time it’s a bunch of safe crackers coming a cropper. How does she know about them in the first place? She’s Lunch Lady!
The Summer Camp Shakedown was mildly disappointing for removing the kids too far from the school environment that’s sustained the series, but this is a return to form. As the title tells us, the usually sedate world of the school bake sale is the focus, and Krosoczka broadens the school cast. We’re introduced to Brenda, a grumpy bus driver, the not quite as grumpy janitor Mr. Kalowski, health teacher Mrs. Calahan and the school’s safety patrol monitor, all of whom have grumbles. Krosoczka makes it clear, though, which of them crosses the line. Will the young readers figure out who’s responsible when the lights go out and the bake sale goodies go missing?
With plenty of suspects paraded before readers, it’s down to Dee, Hector and Terrence to figure out the who and why as the mystery occupies half the book. Lunch Lady is seen on the cover with her new scooter (ingeniously hidden), and once the culprit is revealed another even more fantastic mechanical contraption is introduced, one that gives even Lunch Lady pause for thought. There are no new food-related gimmicks this time, but the device more than makes up for that, and allows for some great visuals.
This is another fun-packed adventure for younger readers, creative, funny and thrilling. In the fullness of time, it’s likely to be repackaged with The Field Trip Fiasco as the third 2 for 1 Special.