Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
I think at one point or another every kid has wondered about the school lunch ladies. What do they do when they’re not dishing up cardboard textured pizza or drippy sloppy joes?
Korosoczka certainly has a more exciting answer to that question than most would imagine. His lunch ladies lead a secret life that seems to be equal measures Batman and Bond. Our Lunch Lady heroine seems to manage the main crime fighting, while her coworker seems to have a touch of Q (Bond’s quartermaster, inventor of all cool gadgetry) and Alfred (Batman’s butler/keeper) about her. What’s not to like?
This is the first installment of the series and so far, I’m a huge fan. There’s not a single weak female character so far, they’re all strong and clever. There’s violence, sure, but it’s definitely more cartoonish in nature rather than scary. The book opens with a group of students speculation about the lunch lady’s private life. They are distracted from their wonderings when a new substitute appears. Lunch Lady strongly suspects there’s something fishy about the sub and follows him to find out, while the students happen to pick the same day to investigate her! She ends up in a killer cyborg showdown that ends up revealing her secrets to the kids and they of course, help her save the day.
Great for: I would hand this to any kid who likes My Weird School, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Louis Sachar’s Wayside School books. It has a bit of the same school centered chaos and cleverness of Wayside School. I prefer it almost infinitely to the other two series though, in part because I prefer the way it depicts girls. (Click here for some of my complaints about girls in the My Weird School series).
Age Recommendation: I think this would be great for Grades 2-6. Advanced second graders should be able to read it and the content has nothing that should really worry parents. The interest level should go up pretty high as well, making it a fun pick for older students who might not be reading on grade level.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – The music teacher is said to be “flirting”.
Profanity – Food words like donuts and cauliflower are used instead of profanity.
Death, Violence and Gore – A man is drawn holding a gun on the very first page. Someone hits him repeatedly to get him to drop his weapon. A car loses control and crashes, ejecting two passengers. There are a few threats between students as well as a narrow avoidance of a fight. There is a battle between the Lunch Lady and the cyborgs. Chicken nuggets are bombs and fish sticks become nunchucks. Children are captured and briefly threatened by cyborgs.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.