From the Lunch Witch series , Vol. 1

Truly, far too often school lunch ladies get a bad rap. In this case, it’s justified, and stout-stomached readers who have...

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)

Pub Date: March 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62991-162-5

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Papercutz

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014


The dream phantasms of a high-spirited narrator intersect, even crowd, reality, but the stream-of-consciousness text makes for a rambling, radically personal tale. Playful images of a stuffed lion, trampoline, purple shoes, and a cat named Pine-Cone take hold in a young girl’s imagination, despite her “old” mother who makes her go to bed when she’d rather “stay up early” and a big sister with a cranky disposition. At home, she likes counting flea bites and pretending to be a worm, but is afraid of the dark and going to Grade One. The second half of the book takes off in a separate first-day-of school direction. Wild dreams precede the big day, which includes bullies on the playground and instant friend Chelsea. The childlike articulations of the text are endearing, but not quite of universal interest, and don’t add up to a compelling story; children may more readily warm to Gay’s illustrations, which include a dreamlike flying cat, a menacing hot dog, and an uproarious stuffed toy looming over everyday domestic scenes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-55143-107-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999


The spotlight shifts to Little Vampire’s new human friend Michael in this mistitled sequel to Little Vampire Goes to School (p. 810). Beaten up in front of his girlfriend Sabrina by a bully named Jeffrey, Michael eagerly follows his undead buddy into a magic painting to meet Rabbi Solomon, feline “cat-balist” and kung-fu master. After a quick bout or two, Michael’s ready to rumble; unfortunately, in the meantime a trio of Little Vampire’s over-helpful monster friends have gone to Jeffrey’s house and eaten him. Several misadventures later, Jeffrey’s pieced back together—and though in the ensuing battle Michael’s martial arts skills disappear as quickly as they came, Sabrina sends the bully staggering off in a daze. Illustrated in crowded cartoon panels, the newest episode in this freewheeling graphic mini-novel offers plenty of gags (in more than one sense of the word), but will be incomprehensible to readers unfamiliar with the first chapter. (Picture book. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85769-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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