Paying homage to the Lunch Lady: Back to school means back to homework

Whether you bring your jelly sandwich or a thermos of spaghetti to school every day, or whether you spend a few dollars at noontime to purchase a plate of sloppy joe’s, you’ve met her: The Lunch Lady. Every school has one, and this week Good Reads celebrates the back to school season with an homage to the woman who runs the caf.

While you’ve seen the lunch lady, you may not be aware that she has a secret identity. That’s right, she could be a superhero, and you don’t even know it!

Jarrett J. Krosoczka does know, however, and he’s bringing her adventures to elementary school students everywhere! Check out, for example, Lunch Lady And The Bake Sale Bandit, number five in his happenin’ comics series, tailor-made for kids who love Captain Underpants and other cool peeps who battle evil.

In this episode, the kids and their parents have worked hard to cook up a storm. The bake sale will pay for a field trip to the museum.

But – what’s that? All the tasty treats are stolen! Who’s responsible? Kids Dee, Hector and Terrence, plus Safety Monitor Orson, all try to solve the mystery. But they may need the help of The Lunch Lady (and her mac-and-cheese cannon!) to help them when they are surprised by the culprit.

This is a graphic novel filled with cool gadgets and good meals, with a hint of sugar for the occasional treat. Yum!

Many students leave school for the summer break with a list of books to read. Some return in the fall and they… haven’t read those books yet. Oops.

L’Ordinateur Aux 100 Romans (by Helene Lasserre and Gilles Bonotaux, 2001 and filed with an orange dot) offers a quick primer on the classic Western canon coupled with new computers – our young hero must find a password and fight off a virus in order to get back to the real world. In the meantime, he’s trapped inside and is tossed about the Internet, visiting in/famous  characters (such as Alice, Long John Silver, Sherlock Holmes and the one-eyed Cyclops from Ulysses). Readers choose their own adventure, jumping to a different page depending on the decisions they make.

Even so, this book only gives tiny glimpses of many classics. And with classes starting, you may not be able to catch up on every bit of assigned reading.

Well-known French author and academic  Pierre Bayard comes to the rescue. Bayard’s playful reputation  is confirmed with How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, translated into the English by Jeffrey Mehlman (2007). Indeed, Bayard notes that discussing tomes you haven’t read with others requires the development of immense creativity and self-confidence.

“Because I teach literature at the university level, there is, in fact, no way to avoid commenting on books that most of the time I haven’t even opened. It’s true that this is also the case for the majority of my students, but if even one of them has read the text I’m discussing, there is a risk that at any moment my class will be disrupted and I will find myself humiliated,” confesses our hero.

But it is distance, Bayard argues, that allows us to understand a book without becoming overwhelmed by the minutia with which the author has unwisely filled it.

And he goes on from there.

First you’ll see Bayard’s work as preposterous, then as parody, and then he’ll make you question how you relate to books. The act of non-reading is itself a decision, and by the end of this book you’ll be secure in your enlightened refusal to spend seven months going through Marcel Proust’s seven volume classic  In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past.

Sadly, this sort of clever argument is unlikely to work on a Grade 9 English teacher. So now – it’s off to read through that homework: “Alas, Poor Yorick; I knew him, Horatio.”

– Eleanor Brown, September 2, 2011

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About BiblioLennLibrary

The Lennoxville Library, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have a great selection of books in French and English, plus books on tape and CD, too! Check out our large-print section, our graphic novels... La Biblio Lennoxville se situe dans les Cantons-de-l'Est du Quebec. Les residents de Sherbrooke peuvent devenir membre gratuitement. Nous avons une grande selection de livres en francais et en anglais. Venez donc nous voir! Hours/Heures d'ouverture: Mardi-Tuesday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Mercredi et Jeudi -Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 6pm -- 10h a 18h Vendredi-Friday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Samedi-Saturday, 11am to 4pm -- 11h a 16h Pour plus d'info, vous pouvez nous trouver au http://www.bibliolennoxvillelibrary.ca/ Click on the above to get to our website!
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