The Lunch Witch
Written and Illustrated by: Deb Lucke
Format: Softcover, 6 x 8, 180 pages, Full Color, $14.99
If you were to catch a glance at my desk at home over the last few months you would've seen a copy of The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke. Honestly, I felt it looked uninteresting. A typical witch story.
I was completely wrong.
It's not another lunch lady story (as is also so popular right now). It's not another witch story. It's not another story about magic and potions.
What is it? The Lunch Witch is a clever and engaging story that rethinks stereotypes and schema-based judgments. Grunhilda is a witch you want to be friends with, even if she self-identifies as a haggard old witch; that is, further, too if you can see past her lunch lady attire and job duties to her true identity. Then, you will surely want to know her and her story. One young student at the school the lunch witch works at, Madison, does just that. One outsider recognizing another outsider the story pivots on this unlikely and unlucky pairing, a pairing that encourages a reader's eyes onward.
So, in this case, don't judge a book by its cover is precisely accurate. I encourage all young adult educators to add this graphic novel to their collections.
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plots: Grunhilda is out of a job. Desperate and feeling limited to just being a witch brewing witch's stew Grunhilda spies a lunch lady job that calls on a certain expertise in cooking. Can she really disguise being a witch and work as a school lunch lady? Things are going well until another outsider recognizes a pot calling the kettle black.
Major Characters: Grunhilda the Witch, Grunhilda's witch relatives, Hansel and Gretel, Titiba, Grunhilda's Museum Boss, Grunhilda's dog, Madison, Sallee, school children, teachers, principal, bats, spiders, Madison's parents, Antionette, store clerk, toads, snake, beetle, muskrat, beetle
Settings: Grunhilda's home, Salem Haunted Museum, Salem Natural Store, pond, principal's condo, streets of Salem, Grunhilda's broom
Themes: past-present-future, good and evil, intelligence, school relationships (teacher-student, teacher-lunch lady), secrets, identity
Reading Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers
Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
* The number referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)
Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:
The two main characters are key to understanding The Lunch Witch. For that reason, a general Venn diagram can help students best articulate each characters' individual and shared traits.
In one circle you will find "Grunhilda" and in another circle "Madison." Where the circles overlap please list the two characters similarities. In the character or self-owned spaces of the circles list how the characters are individuals and/or different from each other.
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (in press, 2014). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.