She yanks on her elbow-length rubber gloves and snaps the string of her apron into a knot — but this is no ordinary lunch lady. Not only does she serve food, she also serves justice.
The Lunch Lady in question is the star of NPR's Backseat Book Club's latest pick, The Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krosoczka.
Like most cafeteria workers, she feeds breakfast and lunch each day to school children. But she also retreats to a Batman-like lair below the lunchroom. From there, she can monitor the whole school for suspicious characters like the Cyborg Substitute or the Video Game Villain. And like any good crime-fighter, she's loaded with cool gadgets like fish stick nunchucks, a spatu-copter, and a hairnet that catches the bad guys.
Yes, these are fun, fired-up graphic stories that kids consume like popcorn. But they — like their author — have a sneaky depth that parents and kids alike can appreciate.
Krosoczka brings both energy and tenderness to his writing. While today he can revel in the successes of the Lunch Lady series and his other books, his life had a rocky start. Krosoczka's dad wasn't in the picture and his mom was addicted to drugs and often incarcerated. But he was raised by his loving maternal grandparents, and in a recent TED talk, How a Boy Became an Artist, he described the impact his grandparents had on his life and paid tribute to all the adults who helped foster his creativity. You can see some of Jarrett's childhood artwork at his website.
We hope you'll read along with us — starting with the first book, The Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute — and then keep reading through the rest of the series. We'd love for you to share your questions for Krosoczka with us. Also, tell us about the people who work in your school cafeteria! If you have a photo of you and staff members of your cafeteria, please have an adult help you send it to us at BackseatBookClub@npr.org.