From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2–Harriet, the cook at Lincoln School, is feeling tired and unappreciated. None of the children enjoy the healthy lunches she exhausts herself preparing and now, she needed a vacation bad! After she departs for a tropical paradise, Principal Fitz hires a series of substitutes, including a hash slinger who provides greasy food complete with flies, a French chef whose rich dishes (all flambé) make the children fat, and a witch who creates cupcakes that bite back. Various teachers attempt to run the kitchen with equally disastrous results. The children write to Harriet imploring her to return, but their pleas fall on deaf ears until the principal sends a telegram stating that the children are no longer healthy. Harriet returns, and from that lunch on, they all ate healthy foods for the rest of their long and happy lives. The plot is mildly amusing, although the joke wears thin rather quickly. The illustrations, done in indelible ink and Luma Dyes, are bright and cheerful and amplify the silliness of the situation. Kathryn Lasky's Lunch Bunnies
(Little, Brown, 1996) addresses the cafeteria scenario with humor and less chaos. An additional purchase for larger collections.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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K-Gr. 2. In a kind of dietician's take on Harry Allard's Miss Nelson Is Missing
(1977), cafeteria chef Harriet takes a vacation from an elementary school of picky eaters only to return to a hero's welcome. First, a tattooed hash-slinger from a downtown diner steps in, but his greasy food and subpar hygiene quickly grow old. Next comes a French chef who flambees the kitchen and fattens the kids; he is followed by increasingly disastrous substitutes, one of whom brings her own cauldron and serves up things that writhe right off the plate. The epistolary format, with letters, enclosed crayon drawings, and telegrams pleading for the cook's return, will please fans of similarly structured books, like Mark Teague's Dear Mrs. LaRue
(2002), and Kelley's artwork exhibits its usual loosely doodled, expressive charm, employing a full watercolor palette to vividly portray both gloppy, horrific meals and healthful fruits and veggies. Use this to lighten up units on nutrition. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved