Written and Illustrated by Deb Lucke
180 pages Age 8—12
“For generations and generations, the women of Grunhilda’s family have stirred up trouble in a big, black pot. Grunhilda inherits her famous ancestor’s recipes and cauldron, but no one believes in magic anymore. Despite the fact that Grunhilda’s only useful skill is cooking up potfuls of foul brew, she finds a job listing that might suit her: lunch lady. She delights in scaring the kids until she meets Madison, a girl with thick glasses and unfinished homework who doesn’t fit in. The two outsiders recognize each other. Madison needs help at school and at home, but helping people goes against everything Grunhilda believes in as a witch! Will this girl be able to thaw the Lunch Witch’s icy heart? Or will Grunhilda turn her back on a kindred spirit?” [back cover]
October will soon be upon us and with it Halloween. While The Lunch Witch is not a Halloween book, it does contain a witch and several witchy ancestors, a talking dog (Mr. Williams), who guides his master, and four bats (The Bat Boys–formerly children), who like to give commentary. If that is not scary enough, the try eating a school lunch, especially when The Lunch Witch, also known as Grunhilda the Black Heart, starts cooking those meals. Yep, that is truly scary! (Recipes available on her website.)
The Lunch Witch is a graphic novel that explores what it means to be an outsider. Grunhilda’s potion shop closes due to lack of sales. She then loses her job posing as a witch at a Salem witch museum—she is not scary as a witch. I love the irony. After a few funny suggestions, Grunhilda’s talking dog helps her find a listing under “L” in the want ads: Lunch Lady. This is the perfect job for a witch used to making horrid smelling brew in her black cauldron. But Madison, a student at Salem Elementary, may have seen Grunhilda with her bats. Will Madison rat out Grunhilda as a witch? Madison just wants to be able to finish her homework and maybe be smart for a change. She asks Grunhilda to make her smart . . . or else. Grunhilda agrees, looking up the ingredients for a smart potion. The ancestors do not like this side of Grunhilda. Witches are not supposed to be nice. To keep the ancestors at bay, Grunhilda’s dog messes with the smart potion. It works; Grunhilda’s potion turns Madison into a frog.
The Lunch Witch is humorous, though the humor is often subtle. We are never sure If Madison saw Grunhilda with her bats or not. Madison wears very thick glasses. But for a girl who cannot seem to get her homework done, she is smart enough to blackmail Grunhilda. I love that the two recognize each other as kindred spirits. I also love the subtle irony the author uses to grand effect. Kids will love the humor and the sepia toned illustrations. There is much to love in this magical graphic novel. As The Lunch Witch progresses, there is also much to anticipate. Will Grunhilda continue to help Madison? Will the two outsiders stick together or will Grunhilda’s ancestors—with her dog’s help—rise from their graves and stop Grunhilda? It does not need to be Halloween to enjoy The Lunch Witch. Deb Lucke’s characters will charm kids with their humor and crazy situations any day of the year.
THE LUNCH WITCH #1. Text and illustrations copyright © 2015 by Deb Lucke. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Papercutz, New York, NY.
Meet the author/illustrator, Deb Lucke, at her website: http://www.deblucke.com/
Grunhilda’s website: http://www.lunchwitch.com/
Find more graphic novels at the Papercutz website: http://papercutz.com/
Also by Deb Lucke
The Boy Who Wouldn’t Swim
The Book of Time Outs: A Mostly True History of the World’s Biggest Troublemakers
Never Say Boo! by Robin Pulver
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Full Disclosure: The Lunch Witch #1 by Deb Lucke, and received from Papercutz, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”