• Happy birthday David Greenberg (A Tugging String, Don’t Forget Your Etiquette, Enchanted Lions).
  • The infamous Nero becomes emperor of Rome in 54 A.D. Read Nero Corleone by Elke Heidenreich, illustrated by Quint Buchholz.
  • In 1307 hundreds of Knights Templar in France are arrested by agents of King Phillip the Fair. It may have also been the birth date of Jaques de Molay (1244-1314), the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Read A Templar’s Apprentice: The Book of Tormod by Kat Black.
  • The Whirlpool Galaxy, one of the most famous galaxies and easily observable by even amateur stargazers, is discovered in 1773 by French astronomer Charles Messier. Read Galaxies by Seymour Simon, NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson, and Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night by Cynthia Rylant.
  • It’s International Skeptics Day. Read The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller.

This week America celebrates National School Lunch Week. And as that old ditto goes: “Teachers come and teachers go,/It’s the lunch lady who you get to know.”  But how well do you really know the lunch lady? Do you know what she does when she leaves the school? In our book of the day, an inquiring group of kids ask these questions and discover some amazing answers. For in their school, the lunch lady is someone to be feared. She serves both lunch—and justice—in equal measure.

When author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka went back to visit his own elementary school as an adult, he saw the same lunch lady who had been working there when he was a child. After some time drawing and thinking about a book, he transformed her into a cafeteria worker by day, super heroine by night. She speeds on a motorcycle to stop robbers and enters abandoned warehouses to find criminals. In 2009 she took on one of her most difficult cases yet in Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute.

When Mr. Pasteur, a substitute teacher, shows up to take over the class of someone who hasn’t been sick in twenty years, the Lunch Lady gets suspicious. After she monitors school activities on a huge computer system, she decides to follow her suspect home. Unbeknownst to her, some students are tracking her as well—to discover what she actually does at night. Shocked to find the real answer to their question, they help her foil the evil plan of the science teacher Mr. Edison, who wants to replace the teaching staff with robots. The entire story is told in comic book format, perfect for first through third graders who like action-packed adventure mixed with fantasy. Or maybe it isn’t fantasy. Maybe a lot of lunch ladies drive motorcycles and fight crime in off hours. You will have to be the judge.

In the past few years, Jarrett J. Krosoczka has become one of our most popular authors with children. His Lunch Lady series demonstrates why. He remembers what he thought about as a child and knows how to entertain children and keep them laughing.

So before you celebrate School Lunch Week, ask an important question. What does your lunch lady do when she isn’t dishing out sloppy joes?

Here’s a passage from Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute:


Originally posted October 13, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Humor, School
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute


  1. G. Perry says:

    This sounds like a fun book. I’ll be looking for it today.

    Not to distract from today’s review, but I want to comment about the astronomy book mentioned. The book Nightwatch by Terence Dickinson is THE book most families should own, for looking at the stars. Trust me. Get hold if the latest version. You will suddenly begin to understand with ease, what is out there. If you get hooked, The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide by Terrence would be your second book. I went on a campaign to have Nightwatch available throughout our library system. Very successful and patrons love it. This is a gorgeous color illustrated book with simple and clear explanations.

  2. Sheri says:

    Hi Anita, I have been happily visiting your site for the past year or so (found you through my library’s website). I truly enjoy your posts, book selections and background insights. As an avid reader and mother of a 6 & 7 year old, it is great to be exposed to new authors, illustrators and books.

    For those of your readers located near central MA, Jarrett Krosoczka will be at the Worcester Art Museum on Sunday, October 23rd.

    Check out their site for more information:

  3. April Mazza says:

    I love the Lunch Lady series! They are incredibly popular in my library without me even having to suggest them (but I still do!). And what fun to learn it is School Lunch Week…I learn something new every day on your blog Anita, thank you!

  4. suzi w. says:

    Just whizzed through our copy (I think that’s why I don’t like graphic novels, I can’t read them slowly!!) and WOWZA, so much fun! Chicken nugget bombs?

    Also, it is very rare to see kids eating breakfast at school, a lot of those kids that do eat at school are often a part of the free breakfast, free lunch program, I wonder if the author was considering that…a part of the population that doesn’t get written about unless it’s in a “oh, we’re in tight times.” (I could be reaching…)

    Also, Hampshire College had their lunch lady give a talk at commencement, that was really cool.


    Off to find Freedman’s Eleanor biography. Heard some great things about your session at the MN libraries conference.

  5. Anita says:

    Sheri: Thanks so much for alerting everyone to the Worcester Art Museum event — and the show of Jarrett’s work.

  6. Anita says:

    Suzi: I had a great time in Minnesota. I have spoken enough there that I now know people from past speeches. So it makes the trips even better.

  7. Maia Hajj says:

    I remember flipping through one of the books from this series while doing my student teaching in a elementary school library and thinking what a great idea for a graphic novel it was! Thanks for posting about it.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Jarrett Krosoczka is one of the presenters at the Foundation for Children’s Books half-day Saturday conference “What’s New in Children’s Books” at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA on November 2nd.

Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.