BOOKS: Action, adventure and the power of peas
In "Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle," by Jarrett Krosoczka, the problem is more than a scuffle.
It starts with the new superintendent. She melts down the playground equipment, makes kids run on treadmills in gym class and has fired Lunch Lady and her sidekick, Betty.
But never fear. Hector and the Breakfast Bunch are determined to take back their school.
With the help of the mysterious janitor, they smuggle Lunch Lady and Betty back into the school building where they view surveillance tapes and reunite with their fighting kitchen gadgets.
Unfortunately, the problem is worse than expected. The superintendent is building a laser on the roof to shoot down the moon. The survival of Earth is at stake. But Lunch Lady, Betty and the students take action.
In some ways, "Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle" is much like the other books in the Lunch Lady saga. The action is extreme, and the dialogue is full of witty wordplay. ("Peas and carrots!" yells Lunch Lady when she's mad.)
But new elements enter this book.
This time, the entire student body becomes aware of Lunch Lady's dual identity as a crime fighter. The students also take up arms, using the lasso linguini, the celery staff and even the electronic bananarang.
Krosoczka also gives readers more of the back story. Lunch Lady remembers that the superintendent was once a disgruntled student. "Don't think for a moment I would forget a kid who comes through my lunch line!" she says.
He also takes a few jabs at the educational system. The superintendent bashes creative writing because it doesn't fit into the "educational standards." Even the eye-patch wearing League of Librarians gets involved -- upset that all librarian positions have been cut in the district.
But the success of "Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle" isn't built on commentary. Rather, it's built on action, adventure and the power of students who fight for their school.
"Lunch Lady and the Schoolwide Scuffle." By Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Knopf, 2014. 96 pp.