Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. Random House, New York, 2009. ISBN: 9780375946837
The kids at school wonder what kind of life the Lunch Lady leads. Soon after the new substitute seems a bit odd, the Lunch Lady begins her work and gets to the bottom of things. She finds out that the odd substitute is a robot, created by the science teacher to get the kids to hate all other teachers for giving them extra robot-ordered homework. Then the science teacher can be Teacher of the Year, or so he thinks. The Lunch Lady and her sidekick figure out that the teacher is a robot and she fights the clan of evil robots away from the kids. All seems well at the lunchroom again until we find that the evil cyborg substitute is at the jail, requesting new orders from the science teacher.
Vardell states that, “there needs to be a clear and consistent point of view that encourages the reader to believe in this fantasy world and engage in the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ for the length of the novel.” This is the power of the Lunch Lady books. These books are great graphic novels that are easy to read, full of unbelievable circumstances, but just such great fun that you don’t mind. It really reminds me of the Captain Underpants series that my middle school students really enjoyed.
Booklist (Mar 1, 2009) reviewed this book by stating, “This tongue-in-cheek superheroine graphic novel will hit the spot for chapter-book readers. Lunch Lady and Betty, her assistant in both the cafeteria and her role of wrong-righting supersleuth, investigate the strange case of an absent teacher, his creepy substitute, and a plan to grab the Teacher of the Year Award by truly foul means. Three little kids join in the action as Lunch Lady, equipped with a variety of high-tech kitchen gadgets like a spatu-copter and a lunch-tray laptop, tracks a cleverly disguised robot to his maker’s lab, where a whole army of cyborgs require kicking, stomping, and the wielding of fish-stick nunchucks. Yellow-highlighted pen-and-ink cartoons are as energetic and smile-provoking as Lunch Lady’s epithets of Cauliflower! and Betty’s ultimate weapon, the hairnet. There is a nice twist in the surprise ending, and the kids’ ability to stand up to the school bully shows off their newfound confidence in a credible manner. Little details invite and reward repeat readings with visual as well as verbal punning.”
I agree that there is so much subtle detail in the pictures, the way the graphics are arranged, the little play on words here and there and, the movement of the story. It works so well as a comic book style tale of a superhero. This is just such a nice way to put the situation into a school with fantastical scenes that I think a lot of young readers, male or female, will really enjoy these. I would suggest keeping such graphic novels available in my classroom or school library. For those who are reluctant readers, this has the basic elements of character, plot, setting, theme and style so any kind of book report or presentation would be done well by using a Lunch Lady book.