Rory Branagan (detective): The Deadly Dinner Lady by Andrew Clover and Ralph Lazar

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HarperCollins, 2019. ISBN: 9780008265922.
(Age: 8 - 12) Highly recommended. Themes: Detectives - fiction, Murder - fiction, School stories, Teachers - fiction, Performing Arts - fiction. Rory is a boy who loves to solve crimes, and, in this book, he is faced with the deadliest crime committed during the school Talent contest. Already famous for solving other crimes Rory sets to work with his sidekick Cassidy (The cat) to find out who has murdered the nastiest Dinner lady at the school and why. This comedy-crime book is very funny and really entertaining to read. It would not be one to read to a class because of the large amount of visual component, but Rory's character is one most children will relate to easily. The teacher characters are also a great feature of the book as the author has taken traits common to many teachers and created some memorable ones in this book. The very serious Mr Bolton who has composed a Rap about Grammar and Mr Meeton who thinks he is the most popular teacher in the school.
Rory Branagan and the other main characters are introduced in picture form at the beginning of each novel in the series. This is a great reference guide for students who find names in books difficult to read. The illustrations are by Ralph Lazar who illustrated the Happiness is . . . series of books.
The series has 7 titles and The deadly Dinner Lady is the fourth book in the series. I would class this as a Graphic novel as the text is spread out between a generous amount of entertaining illustration. It looks very much like a long novel as it over 270 pages which makes it perfect for a child who wants to cover up the fact that they can't read quickly, are reluctant readers or are daunted by too much text.
There is a Rory Branagan website which children can use to find out more about the characters and the books, including information about the creators. There is an entertaining section called Minis which is worth looking at.
Gabrielle Anderson