- Series: Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist
- Author/Illustrator: Jim Benton
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication year: 2003
- Age range: 7-10 years
- Number of pages: 112
I didn’t expect “Lunch Walks Among Us” to be such a fun story! Being the first book in the “Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist” chapter book series by Jim Benton, it manages to combine a really quirky main character and the scientific method. It also raises such important topics for kids as being yourself and accepting other people’s differences.
Franny is an original main character, who loves the gooey part of science and all things that are dark, and creepy, and spooky. Her room is filled with steaming test tubes, strange bubbling beakers and a bunch of crackling electrical gizmos that Franny had made by herself. In addition, she has a giant tarantula, a snake, a flying piranha and several bats as her pets.
When Franny has to change schools, her new classmates are afraid of her weird style and behavior. This makes Franny sad, as she really wants them to be her friends. Luckily, Franny’s new teacher likes her and gives her a good advice: think of making friends as an experiment!
Excited about the experiment, Franny makes her observations of the other kids (dolls they play with, lunch they eat, etc.) and analyses the data collected. Based on her conclusions, Franny creates a potion to transforms herself into a nice-looking girl, modifies her head-biting doll into a glittery beauty and gets a squashy white bread sandwich for lunch, just like all the other kids.
Her transformation has an immediate effect, and the kids seem to like her now. But when a Pumpkin-Crab Monster comes out of a school trash can and kidnaps the teacher, Franny has to choose between saving the day using her mad scientist skills and keeping her friends.
This short and fun story with whimsical black & white illustrations by the author is a great find for kids who have a taste for the gooey part of science, monsters and unusual pets.