It’s long past time that I created a new feature for graphic novels, given that I enjoy them so much and there are so many brilliant ones out there, so welcome to the inaugural, coincidentally-Halloween, edition of Gabbing About Graphic Novels. Today’s book is the second in a series that I hadn’t heard of before, but will now make a point of pursuing. We received a copy of Lunch Witch #2: Knee Deep in Niceness by Deb Lucke from the publisher, Papercutz, via Netgalley. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Grunhilda the Witch has a weakness…a tiny soft spot on her black and crusty heart. She continues to hide the nice feelings she has when she gets a letter from former Salem Elementary student Madison. But she can’t keep up the ruse for long because her familiars are onto her…and so are her ancestors! The familiars search her hovel and find her collection of letters from Madison. Mr. Williams has a solution, but it involves making a meanness potion from the book that IS-NOT-TO-BE-USED-BY-ANYONE-OTHER-THAN WITCHES (ESPECIALLY-NOT-WITCHES’-PETS). But anything that can go wrong does when he accidentally mixes up a positivity potion instead…and it starts to affect everyone in town. Birds are singing. Flowers are growing. The principal cancels school! Grunhilda hurries to mix up a potion to fix the town, her familiars, and her own black crusty heart before the positivity succeeds in making everything bright and cheerful.
Target Age Range:
Middle grade and above
Line drawings, scratchy hand-lettering and some atmospheric cardboardy highlights
I read this in about three short sittings. At 164 pages, it is more substantial than many graphic novels I had read and by the end I felt like I had finished a well-developed story.
Let’s get gabbing:
Even though I hadn’t read the first book in this series (which is called The Lunch Witch, in case you are interested), I had absolutely no problem following the story, as this feels a bit like a standalone. Essentially, Grunhilda’s animal familiars think that she is hiding a kind-old-lady characteristic somewhere about her personality and they make the decision to alter this by (inadvisedly) using the old lady’s spell-book. Disaster ensues and with the prospect of everlasting positive vibes overtaking the town, and its up to Grunhilda and one very determined Scout to make things right and miserable again.
Grunhilda is perfectly lovable as the cranky old witch with just a grain of love in her heart, while her collection of familiars – the irrepressible mutt, Mr Williams, straight-talking spider Louise and a collection of bats – provide alternating bouts of support, chaos and general ill-feeling. Scout, the badge-obsessed boy scout, is an unexpected and standout character, as much for his determination to legitimately achieve a badge to sew on his sash (be it a “helping old ladies” badge or a “causing everlasting negativity for a whole town badge” – he isn’t fussy) as for his commitment to assisting the community (whether or not he is wanted, and however loosely the term “assisted” may be applied).
Apart from Scout, I have to say I found the ancestors pretty amusing, with their mish-mash of old-timey costumes and incessant banging on the underfloor of Grunhilda’s house with broom handles.
This series would best suit subversive middle graders who like a story that flips stereotypes on their heads and isn’t afraid to delve into the wicked and vexatious sides of human (and witch) behaviour.
Until next time,