Yesterday was a big day at Inly. Our students met the man behind the Lunch Lady – Jarrett Krosoczka, the author and illustrator of picture books and graphic novels for young readers. Inly doesn’t have a food service. Our students pack their lunches, but I still can’t keep Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series on the shelf. And after yesterday’s program, I think we’ll have a waiting list – and maybe a request for a cafeteria!
Krosoczka made four presentations over the course of the day, and was gracious about tailoring each program to the age of the students. Luckily, he has fun and engaging books for young children and our middle school students. Punk Farm and Punk Farm on Tour, Krosocka’s picture books about animals who form a band (after the farmer has turned in for the night, of course) are big hits.
After a lively reading of Punk Farm, Krosozka met with a group of students about the crime fighting heroine of the Lunch Lady series. He covered the reasons his books are yellow (kitchen gloves), fish stick nunchucks, and the bumpy road to publishing his first book.
To me, the most interesting session was the time he spent with our middle school students, many of whom are big fans of graphic novels. “We read comics like we read sentences,” he told them. “My job is to design the panels so you know how to read them.” Krosoczka went on to draw panels that didn’t work and explained why. He talked about gutters (the white space between panels), the differences between speech bubbles and thought bubbles, and how the importance of the action determines the size of the panel. One of our students asked Krosozka to name something he does not like to draw. Krosoczka’s answer: cars. I don’t think we should look for Lunch Lady to become a NASCAR driver anytime soon.
Over lunch, I asked Krosoczka about other authors and illustrators whose work he admires. We agreed on the brilliance of Mac Barnett’s book Extra Yarn and the genius of Matt Phelan’s work. Krosoczka also praised the beautiful simplicity of the Maisy books by Lucy Cousins, and raved about the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – particularly the inspiring ways Keats “intermingled paint and collage.”
If a young artist in your house is looking for inspiration, they should visit Krosoczka’s web site or better yet, read one of his engaging and funny books. Here’s a link to his website: