- Posted by Johanna on April 21, 2010 at 11:14 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
- PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers; $6.99 US
Lunch Lady returns in her fourth adventure — I’ve covered the first two and third already — and the food-inspired inventions are as quirky as ever. After a quick demonstration of her fish stick nunchucks, the main story sends the kids off to sleepaway camp for the first time. Lunch Lady and Betty, her inventor assistant, are there to set up the mess hall, while bully Milmoe is spinning scary tales of a swamp monster.
The black-and-white art is approachable and cartoony, with bright yellow highlight color pulling the eye to key items while soft yellow fills in the backgrounds for depth. The story stops dead early on, while Lunch Lady introduces the counselors and sets up two struggles: one power, one romantic. There are so many characters and so much going on that we don’t see much of our title character until almost halfway through the book.
The story winds up with the retro feel of a Scooby Doo episode, but the same could be said of any plot that involves someone thinking putting on a monster costume is a good way to scare others into getting what you want. In a post-X-Files world, any scary legend is going to get investigated, not run away from. And the gadgets get more ridiculous as we go — including a camera shaped like a cookie and night goggles that, for no reason, look like a stuffed taco — but kids will find them amusing in their goofiness, and they demonstrate a twisted creativity. There’s much discussion of a Camp Wars showdown that doesn’t happen in this volume; perhaps material for a later book in the series?
Due to the lack of Lunch Lady focus and too much else going on, my favorite book in the series is still the previous, The Author Visit Vendetta, but kids who enjoy the series likely won’t have my qualms. This volume is due out May 11, with an unfortunate price raise of a dollar.