Authors: Dan Gutman
Ms. LaGrange Is Strange!
Â A Pretty Normal Lunch
Â A Special Guest
Â The New Lunch Lady
Â Chicken Klutz
Â France Talk and Frogs' Legs
Â Welcome to CafÃ© LaGrange
Â Secret Agents
Â The Most Horrible, Terrible, Awful Thing in the History of the World
Â Give Peas a Chance
Â Andrea's Birthday Party
Â Silent Lunch
My name is A.J. and I hate school.
“Which do you hate more,” my friend Ryan asked me, “school or vegetables?”
“Hmmm, that's a hard one,” I said. “I really hate them both.”
“I hate school more than vegetables,” said our friend Michael, who never ties
his shoes, “because we don't have to sit inside a vegetable all day and learn stuff.”
“Good point,” I agreed.
“I hate vegetables more than school,” Ryan said, “because we don't have to
That made perfect sense too. I couldn't make up my mind.
We were in the vomitorium. It was a pretty normal lunch at Ella Mentry School. Ryan stuck carrot sticks in his mouth and said, “Look, I'm a walrus!” Michael put a spoon on his nose, and it hung there. I dared Ryan to put pickle chips on his Tater Tots and eat them. Ryan will eat anything.
Michael dared me to shoot a straw wrapper at Andrea Young, this girl at the next table who is really annoying. The wrapper hit Andrea in the head. She screamed and knocked her apple juice on the floor.
Just at that moment, Andrea's annoying friend Emily was walking by with her tray. Emily slipped on the juice and fell on her butt. As she was falling, she knocked over a whole rack of lunch trays.
“Ouch!” Emily shouted. “I bumped my mouth. My tooth is loose!”
I don't know why, but when people fall on their butt, it's hilarious. Me and Ryan
and Michael just about exploded trying not to laugh. Emily started crying. That big crybaby. She wasn't even hurt, and her tooth was probably loose before she fell.
Mrs. McGillicuddy, the lunch lady, came running out.
“What's going on?” she screamed. “Can't you kids behave?”
Mrs. McGillicuddy is the meanest lunch lady in the history of the world. She's always yelling at us to clean off our table, be quiet, and stop throwing food. She's no fun at all.
Mrs. McGillicuddy must not have seen the apple juice on the floor when she came running out. She slipped on it and fell on her butt too.
It's even funnier when grown-ups fall on their butts, especially mean grown-ups like Mrs. McGillicuddy. Everybody was cracking up.
“You kids are driving me crazy!” Mrs.
McGillicuddy shouted. “That's the last straw! I quit!”
She was totally wrong. There were plenty of straws right there on the lunch counter. But Mrs. McGillicuddy must not have noticed. She yanked off her plastic apron, ripped off her plastic gloves, and pulled off her lunch lady hairnet. She threw all that stuff on the floor and stomped out of the vomitorium.
I'll tell you, there are a lot of crazy grown-ups at Ella Mentry School. But this was the first time I ever saw one of them actually
crazy, live and in person. It was cool.
Miss Lazar, our custodian, came over
with a mop. I feel sorry for her. Every time some kid spills something, she has to clean it up.
“I love cleaning up messes!” Miss Lazar said, mopping the apple juice off the floor. Miss Lazar is bizarre!
When all the excitement was over, Ryan put a carrot stick in his nose and ate it (the carrot stick, not his nose). Michael made a sculpture out of tuna salad. I threw a cookie to Ryan, and he caught it in his mouth.
Like I said, it was a pretty normal lunch.
Finally it was time for recess. Mr. Klutz, our principal, says kids today don't get enough exercise. There should be recess all day long, if you ask me. We should have school for half an hour, instead of the other way around. Then we'd get lots of exercise.
“That was cool when Mrs. McGillicuddy quit,” Ryan said as we climbed the monkey bars.
“Yeah,” I said. “I guess they'll have to find a new lunch lady.”
“Where are they gonna find a new lunch lady?” asked Michael.
“Mr. Klutz will put an ad in the paper,” Ryan said.
“That takes too long,” Michael said. “We need a lunch lady
Michael was right. If Mr. Klutz didn't get a new lunch lady tomorrow, there would be no lunch tomorrow. And if there was no lunch tomorrow, we would starve and die. My friend Billy who lives around the corner told me that if people have no food, they get so hungry they'll even eat dirt.
“Maybe our moms can be lunch ladies,” Michael said.
I don't think that's gonna happen. My mom doesn't even like to cook for our family, and we have two kids, not three hundred.
The bell rang. It was time to line up and go back to Miss Daisy's class. Recess
is way too short. We hardly had any chance to play.
I had forgotten what happened to Emily in the vomitorium, but the girls were still talking about it when we got back to class. Emily had apple juice on her clothes, and she looked upset, like her hamster died or something.
“It was all
fault, A.J.,” said Andrea.
“My fault?” I said. “
the one who knocked the apple juice over.”
“You shot a straw at my head!” Andrea said.
“I did not,” I said. “I shot a straw
at your head. There's a big difference.”
“Well, you're not invited to my birthday
party,” Andrea said.
“I wouldn't go to your stupid birthday party even if I
invited,” I said. Nah-nah-nah boo-boo on her.
Miss Daisy clapped her hands, which means that everybody has to stop talking.
“I was going to start a unit about ancient Egypt today, but first I have some exciting news,” Miss Daisy said. “Ella
Mentry School has won an award. Our school has been named the cleanest school in the district! Next week a special guest is coming to present us with the award.”
“Oooh, who is it?” everybody asked.
“It's Ella Mentry!”
Ella Mentry! She's the lady our school was named after! On the front lawn there's a big sign that says “Ella Mentry Elementary School.” There's a framed picture of her outside the front office, too. She looks like she's about a hundred million years old.
I thought Ella Mentry was dead, but Miss Daisy told us she's not only alive,
but she lives just a few blocks away.
“Ella Mentry was a student at this school a long time ago,” Miss Daisy said. “She went on to become a teacher here, and she taught students like you for thirty years.”
“That's a long time to have the same teacher,” I said. Everybody laughed even though I didn't say anything funny.
“Did she teach Abraham Lincoln?” Ryan asked.
“I don't know,” said Miss Daisy, who
doesn't know anything. “Maybe we can ask Mrs. Mentry when she comes to visit.”
Miss Daisy went to the chalkboard and wrote, “Did you teach Abraham Lincoln?”
“Maybe we can do something to honor Ella Mentry when she comes to visit,” said Andrea Young, who's always trying to think of ways to do more work. Andrea will even ask for
“That's a great idea!” said Miss Daisy.
“How about we honor her by taking the day off from school?” I suggested. “That's how we honor Martin Luther King Jr.”
“Mrs. Mentry wouldn't be very happy to show up and find there are no children
here,” Miss Daisy said. “She loves kids.”
loved kids, she would let us have the day off from school,” I said.
Miss Smarty-pants Andrea was waving her hand in the air and moaning “Ooohâ¦ooohâ¦oooh” like she had to go to the bathroom.
“I have an idea,” Andrea said. “We can make posters and banners and write letters to Ella Mentry.”
I hate her. Why can't a safe drop on her head, like in the cartoons?
“That sounds marvelous!” said Miss Daisy, who loves all of Andrea's dumb ideas that involve us doing more work.
We had been learning how to write let
ters anyway, so Miss Daisy had us all write a letter to Ella Mentry. Writing letters is hard. I didn't know what to say.
We had to stand up and read our letters in front of the class. Andrea wrote a letter saying how excited she was that Ella Mentry was coming to visit. She said it must be really neat to have a school named after you, and that we were going to be on our best behavior for her. What a brownnoser!
I was hoping Miss Daisy would forget to call my name, but she didn't. So I had to stand up in the front of everybody and read.
Dear Mrs. Mentry,
My name is A.J. and I hate school. But I'm glad they named our school after you. Old people always forget things, like their names. But you can never forget your name, because every time you walk by our school, you see it in big letters. When I get old, I hope they name a skate park or a football stadium after me instead of a school. I wouldn't want my name on a place where kids are tortured all day.
P.S.: If you want, when you come
visit I will burp the alphabet for you. Ryan says he can do it, but when he tried, he threw up.
It was almost three o'clock. Miss Daisy said she would drop our letters off at Ella Mentry's house after school. Somebody asked if the lunch lady really quit or would she be back tomorrow. Miss Daisy said it was true that Mrs. McGillicuddy was not coming back.
“What are we gonna do?” Ryan asked. “If we don't have a lunch lady, there will be no lunch. You can't have lunch without a lunch lady. We'll starve and die!”
“We've got to do something!” said
Emily, and she went running out of the room. Emily is weird.
“Oh, don't worry,” Miss Daisy said. “I hear we're going to have a very special lunch lady tomorrow.”