Cartoonist Jarrett J. Krosoczka‘s Lunch Lady series debuted back in 2009, and has had nearly a dozen entries released in the years since. Now the fan-favorite graphic novel series about a crime-fighting school lunch lady is being reissued in new, hardcover, two-in-one editions by Random House’s Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers imprint. Lunch Lady: The First Helping and Lunch Lady: The Second Helping will collect the first four books of the series and feature new backmatter material from Krosoczka, and today The Beat is pleased to offer an exclusive excerpt from The First Helping, in both comic and audiobook formats.

Lunch Lady The First Helping

Here’s how Knopf Books describes the Lunch Lady series:

Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for Lunch Lady in these four fantastic adventures.

Along with the exclusive excerpt, Krosoczka described to The Beat his inspirations for the Lunch Lady series, and how it’s grown since its initial inception:

“When creating the Lunch Lady series in the early 2000s, I wanted to make something as light-hearted and campy as the pop culture I consumed in childhood. To-the-point exposition, punny quips, spy gadgets, explosions, and kids who were always more competent than the goofy and affable adults at the center of the story. Lunch Lady herself is a salt-of-the-earth blue-collar worker who can deliver a roundhouse kick to evil’s face. She is armed with an arsenal of weaponry and gadgetry disguised as items one would find in a school cafeteria, so she doesn’t blow her cover. And when she is mad, she doesn’t curse; she spits out food puns.

I first pitched the Lunch Lady series to my publisher in the mid-00s, and we got to work on what this graphic novel series would be. One of the biggest hurdles? Knopf Books for Young Readers, while a storied publisher with a long history, had never published a graphic novel before. And in the mid-00s, none of the trade publishers were quite sure the book format would succeed, so many, including the initial run of Lunch Lady, were printed in limited color. Times have certainly changed, and kids’ comics have now secured their place on the bookshelves of bookshops, libraries, and readers everywhere. Fortunately, those little paperback yellow-and-black Lunch Lady books continued to grow in readership throughout the’10s, and now they are getting a huge upgrade in these full-color hardcover omnibus editions! Good gravy!”

Krosoczka is a prolific cartoonist for young readers, with dozens of titles to his name, including work on the Star Wars: Jedi Academy graphic novel series. His 2018 memoir Hey, Kiddo was a National Book Award finalist, and won a Harvey Award for Book of the Year in 2019.

Check out the exclusive preview pages for Lunch Lady: The First Helping, and listen to the corresponding audiobook adaptation for the excerpt, below. Look for both The First Helping and The Second Helping to arrive in stores next Tuesday, February 22nd.

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