Little lunch: The school gate by Danny Katz and Mitch Vane

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A very welcome reissue of Danny Katz’s funny and well observed set of stories based on the happenings at  recess time, or play lunch, that fifteen minutes that breaks the morning in the classroom. The group of kids get up to all sorts of adventures, which involve friends, learning limits, learning strategies, problem solving and not a few moral issues lightly touched upon along the way. Each story covers about 20 pages and is littered with Mitch Vane’s hilarious illustrations. 

The first story in this book sees Manny looking at his play lunch dropped on the footpath outside the school. Mrs Gonsha has a strict instruction that no child will leave the school, so Manny and his friends all try to get the parcel, each finding a stick with which to drag the bag closer to the fence, each friend adding another stick to the first one which is not long enough. Eventually the bag is dragged in, the problem solving has worked. Manny is so grateful he offers his play lunch to those who helped, depriving himself to the treats he imagined were inside. 

The second story, 'The girls’ toilet' will again have readers recognising situations and places within their school grounds. Here the girls are making paper crowns using the toilet paper after Amba finds Debra-Jo crying in the girls’ toilet. Unable to placate the girl, after she is called some choice names Amba begins to wind the paper around her head telling her she looks like a princess. 

The third story sees the group Rory, Melanie, Atticus and Amba kicking the ball to each other in a circle. Bored with this they make numerous attempts to try something different, each proving to be involved and problematic.

Adding to the fun of the stories is a series of pages at the end, the Little Lunch Bag containing puzzles and jokes, riddles and games all designed to keep young readers laughing.

Themes: Humour, Playground, School, Recess time, Friends.

Fran Knight