Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown: Lunch Lady #4
Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown opens with Lunch Lady having her van stolen, which makes it difficult to discern if this is part of the tale, or the briefing of a background story.
Heading into the main theme of this graphic, middle-grade novel, the reader is privy to the chaos of the start of summer and a busload of children headed for camp. A few of the kids are looking forward to attending a sleepaway camp for the first time, though not everyone is excited. Some are upset at having to leave their computers or electronic “toys” at home, thinking their time away will be boring. On the bus ride, bully Milmoe taunts the younger ones with tales about the swamp monster and cabin wars, hoping to frighten and intimidate them.
Meanwhile, as the campers are traveling to their destination, the counselors gather, sizing each other up while looking forward to a fun-filled summer. New counselor, Ben, is the talk of the female counselors, much to the dismay of the other guys.
The book progresses with scenes jumping from one topic to another, making the story somewhat confusing. The kids act like kids, pulling different antics; and one of the counselors, Scott, teases the campers with admonitions about the swamp monster. (For what is camp without scary stories?)
Weird things soon start happening, with signs pointing to the possibility that there really could be a monster lurking nearby. The camp director forbids everyone from going near the water—which only serves to heighten the intrigue.
Lunch Lady decides to use her many kitchen gadgets to create protection devices, implements to use for hunting the beast. She leaves with Betty, her helper, to seek out their prey, while some of the children decide to sneak into the kitchen for ice cream sandwiches. The swamp monster shows up and confronts the children, causing them to flee in fear.
Due to this encounter, the director curtails the upcoming dance, insisting the kids now remain inside their cabins for their safety. As the next night approaches, Lunch Lady and Betty are persistent in their endeavor to capture the monster . . . or ascertain if a monster truly exists.
Despite the scenes jumping around and resulting in an unnatural flow of the plot, the illustrations help to clarify the adventures portrayed in the text so youngsters can enjoy the scary presumptions of the existence of monsters and other unnatural occurrences at camp. An unrelated and unusual detail is having the copyright page located at the end of the book, rather than normally in the front.
Labeled for the middle-grade reader, this reviewer is of the opinion that Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown should be categorized for an even younger crowd.