Little Lunch (series)
80pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
It’s only 15 minutes in the school day so really, what can happen in such a short time? Ask any teacher who has ever been on playground duty and you will discover the answer is – a lot! And in this series of books that are perfect for those venturing into the world of novels because of their relatable characters and events and text/image balance, the reader discovers what teachers already know- it can be the most significant 15 minutes of the day.
Set in a suburban primary school in Australia each episode highlights the adventures of a class of Year 5 students and their teacher Mrs Gonsha during morning recess as relationships ebb and flow over what seems like the most innocuous events. In fact, so much happens during that short time that there are three stories in each book. And whether it’s Tamara Noodle hogging the monkey bars, fighting over what kind of sandwich Manny was eating or Battie became SUPER BATMAN GUY, each provides an engaging read that not only has heads nodding but also offers opportunities to discuss how the issue was or could be solved without argument or violence.
The series was first released 20 years ago, was made in to a TV series, still available on iView, in 2015-2016 and is as popular now as it was then because the characters and the things that happen essentially don’t change. The issues a teacher deals with on the playground today at recess will be similar to those I dealt with all those years ago.
Apart from just being a fun read, Danny Katz shows that writing about every day stuff, the stuff you know about and have done can be just as entertaining as the most far-fetched fantasy, and thus the stories in the book could be a basis for a writing exercise for a class. Have them really observe what happens in the playground, analyse the relationships among those involved and how the dynamics made the incident worth watching, show them how to disguise real-life by giving the characters new identities and then have them create their own story for an extra addition to the series. Usually picture books are the inspiration for a class writing endeavour, but this series is just ideal too.