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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Seven Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break If You Want To Survive the Cafeteria, written by John Grandits and illustrated by Michael Allen Austin. Clarion, Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2017. $23.99 ages 8 and up

"By the time the lunch lady let me go, the last seat at my class's table was taken. I set down my tray and tried to squeeze in anyway, but the other kids starting yelling about me pushing. The fly lady was back in an instant. "That's it! You've caused enough trouble for one day," she said. I hung my head. Ginny had especially warned me to obey ... "

With school on the horizon, some students will be considering the joy or terror of eating in the cafeteria for the first time. It is the same for Kyle. You will recognize him if you read Ten Rules You Absolutely Must Not Break if You Want to Survive the School Bus (2011). He's still looking for help when it comes to surviving those first days.

Ginny, his school bus seatmate, is older, wiser and very talkative. She is willing to share everything lunch with him, especially the one she is carrying for herself.

"How she likes carrots but thinks celery is too stringy. How rye bread is okay but only without seeds. How chocolate milk is better than plain, and squishy bananas are gross."

Kyle pays little attention, his focus on his favorite subject - insects. When Ginny learns that he is going to buy his lunch from the cafeteria, she goes on a tear about the rules that must be followed if he wants to survive his first experience. She insists that he write them down.

New to the many rules made clear by Ginny, Kyle approaches the lunch hour with knowledge in hand. Of course, he manages to break each and every one. In so doing, he also creates his own kind of chaos, sharing a table with the big kids as well as his very unique and useful knowledge concerning insects. It makes for a successful debut, and a satisfying experience  - for Kyle.

The way Kyle feels at every turn, and every broken rule, is captured with humor in acrylic, colored pencil and digital illustrations by Michael Allen Austin. They mix Kyle's own reality with his passion for insects, showing with humor his thoughts as he goes about his day at school, at lunch and on the bus. Kid readers will love the details, and it provides a fun read aloud story for early days.

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