Reviews for Tripping over the Lunch Lady : And Other School Stories


Booklist Reviews 2004 July #1
Gr. 4-7. Editor Mercado brings together 10 short stories (including one told in comic-book form) about children's lives in school. In these first-person narratives, sharply defined details and keenly observed nuances of school life often set the stage for moments of wit, surprise, realization, and tenderness. Authors include Avi, Angela Johnson, David Lubar, Terry Trueman, and Rachel Vail. Readers looking for humor will find plenty of it as the stories unfold. In one, a would-be thief settles for kidnapping a boy and his English teacher and finds that he has met his match. In another, a group project in science suddenly makes a U-turn, from moldy disaster to unexpected triumph. At the end of each story is a "School Report," in which the author identifies his or her "Favorite Cafeteria Meal," "Worst Smell at School," "Best Prank Ever Played," and so on. Most of these autobiographical sections include school photos of the writers as children. An entertaining roundup. ((Reviewed July 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
Several of these ten short stories about the "humor and pain" of going to school are emotionally satisfying, including Lee Wardlaw's story of a lost opportunity for friendship and David Rice's tale of a school competition. Others seem contrived, suffering from undeveloped plots or straining too hard for humor. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 June #1
Laughing so hard that milk comes out of your nose; crossing the finish line first in the three-legged race; harboring a secret crush on someone with whom you have never spoken. The ten stories in this collection manage to capture the action, the politics, the memories, and the heartache of life in grade school. Tackling topics such as unfortunate nicknames, illiteracy, and improbable friendships, the stories entertain as well as enlighten. Smart children, conniving children, and amusing children populate the pages of this collection, but mostly they are children who seem familiar and real. Well-known children's authors such as Avi, Sarah Weeks, and Susan Shreve have managed to capture the magic as well as the pain of the elementary years. Grade school never looked so good. (Fiction. 10+) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #1
Students will likely see themselves in these 10 appetizing stories about the ups and many downs of school life. The fifth-grade heroine of Angela Johnson's title story is an endearing klutz of epic proportions (she has broken the gym teacher's nose). Avi's narrator misspells his way through an account of how his English teacher foiled a robbery and fell in love with an erudite thief. Three stories touch on the horrors of being saddled with a bad name, including Sarah Weeks's "Experts, Incorporated," in which the hero's name Rodney Curtain is fine until roll is called alphabetically ("Curtain, Rod"). Terry Trueman's tale of a class clown, forced to read aloud a serious poem about war, evokes the sweaty anxiety of waiting to be called on ("The war poems have taught us that it's not a very good idea to `volunteer,' " the narrator says). Humor leavens the weightier issues (reading trouble, social awkwardness, unrequited love) and a few jokes will elicit groans (asked to define "random" in science class, a character in "Science Friction" explains, "There were two squirrels in my driveway, but then my dad random over"). Unfolding in comic book-style panels, James Proimos's droll story, depicting a day-in-the-life of a bungling wiseacre is hilarious. Brief biographical information at the end of each tale reveals that almost every writer's least favorite subject was math. Unlike school cafeteria fare, this inviting buffet has something for everyone. Ages 10-up. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 July
Gr 5-7-This amusing anthology of 10 short stories, by authors such as Avi, Angela Johnson, David Lubar, and Rachel Vail, will resonate with students everywhere. Sarah Weeks's "Experts, Incorporated," explores how a name can lead to horrific nicknames, like that of the protagonist: Curtain, Rod. Readers will cringe at their own inadequacies, sympathize with the embarrassment of the characters, groan at the familiar odor of "fish sticks in the lunchroom," and cheer when the shame of being in "Special Reading" results in self-awareness and new friends. James Proimos's "The Grade School Zone" is a comic-strip story of a boy's Italian grandmother who fractures the English language. Lee Wardlaw's "The Desk" centers on the mystery and magic arising from the seat of an itinerant circus student, and David Rice's "Tied to Zelda" describes a crush on a friend in school. A skillfully written and engaging collection that's sure to be popular.-Rebecca Sheridan, Easttown Library & Information Center, Berwyn, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2004 August
Students will find familiar ground in this collection of ten short stories that poke fun at the personalities and situations found in typical school situations. There is Angela Johnson's description of the escapades of the class klutz who manages not only to injure herself but also others unfortunate enough to join her in gym class. Terry Trueman tells of the class clown who despairs when he realizes that no one takes him seriously, even when he does not intend to be funny. David Lubar writes of a cooperative group that has trouble deciding on a science project until an unusual odor leads them to what was right under their noses. Avi's contribution is riddled with misspellings and grammar mistakes to emphasize the importance of learning to communicate properly. David Rice tells what happens when a computer nerd and the class jock (a girl) are teamed up in an athletic competition. Also included are stories about new kids, the dreaded career report, first crushes, and surviving special education class. James Proimus and David Fremont even contribute a story in graphic novel format dealing with missing the school bus. A common thread is the entertainment and laughs that the stories evoke, illustrating the rapport that these authors have with young people. Readers will also appreciate the short bios and school pictures of the authors that follow each selection. Geared to middle and upper elementary readers, this collection is meant to be shared and enjoyed.-Chris Carlson 4Q 4P M Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

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