A troubled student leads an evil lunch lady astray…at least temporarily.
Though Grunhilda has recipes, inherited from her witch ancestors, for Hansel-and-Gretel pie and like delicacies, at Salem Elementary she limits herself to putting floor sweepings in the meatloaf and (at least according to student rumor) substituting legless spiders for blueberries. Moved to uncharacteristic pity by the pleas of Madison, a new student who’s gotten off on such a wrong foot that she’s being demoted a grade, Grunhilda concocts what she thinks is an Intelligence potion. Instead, it turns Madison into a toad. Now what? Lucke’s cartoon panels are drawn on coarse brown paper that has been evocatively decorated with pencil shavings, ketchup, spatters of grease and less identifiable substances. They alternate between views of the matronly witch, struggling to make a go of it in a world that has lost its respect for her kind, and Madison, struggling to survive in a wetland (while developing a taste for bugs) until rescue in the form of an anti-potion can arrive. The humor is unapologetically black, and Grunhilda’s concoctions are equally unashamedly disgusting.
Truly, far too often school lunch ladies get a bad rap. In this case, it’s justified, and stout-stomached readers who have always suspected the truth should enjoy seeing how. (Graphic novel. 9-11)