Opportunity knocks for fans of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series! Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s fourth annual online auction has begun, offering items ranging from a set of 10 “autographed and doodled in” “Lunch Lady” books to the chance to have the author draw your child, pet, or school mascot. Bids for the auction close on December 8.
Created in memory of Krosoczka’s grandparents, who raised him in Worcester, MA, along with their own five biological children, the auction’s proceeds will go to the Joe and Shirl Krosoczka Memorial Youth Scholarships, which provide tuition for underprivileged children to attend art classes at the Worcester Art Museum.
Krosoczka inaugurated the auction, kicking off on annually on Cyber Monday, when his grandfather passed away in 2010; his grandmother had died three years earlier. It was a way to honor both grandparents, who supported his interest in art by sending him to classes at the museum starting when he was in sixth grade, and later, were “brave enough to send me to RISD [The Rhode Island School of Design] to study illustration,” he says.
The scholarships specifically benefit children who are raised by people other than their own parents. Krosoczka’s father left before he was born and his mother, a heroin addict, could not provide a stable home. His grandparents gained legal custody of him when he was very young.
“When [my grandfather] passed, I couldn’t help but think and reflect on everything they had done for me over the years,” explains Krosoczka, whose “Lunch Lady” books star a gutsy cafeteria worker moonlighting as a crime fighter. Krosoczka has also given a TEDx talk about his challenges as a child, his grandparents’ unwavering support, and his path to becoming an artist.
“They took me in when they were getting their fifth child out the door. I was three years old,” he says. Later, seeing that their artistic grandchild was “not into sports” and that art classes were rarely offered in his public school, they arranged for him to attend the museum’s youth art program.
“I’ll never forget the day [my grandfather] came into my bedroom and sat on my edge and said,‘It’s up to you, but if you’d like to, we’d like to send you to classes at the Worcester Art Museum,’” he says. “It was a special time for me—and validating for me.”
“When it boils down to it, the most instrumental thing they provided was opportunity,” he adds.
As of December 4, the auction item garnering the highest bid was “a cartoon watercolor of your children, and cartoon of your pet,” the author says, noting that “the crossover of pet lovers and kid lit enthusiasts should bring people in.”
“Every year has built on itself,” he explains. “The auction is always posted on Cyber Monday so people can expect it.” Even those who don’t win an item contribute to the scholarship fund, he says, noting that one year, “I received a check from a kid lit fan I had met 10 years before.”
Though Krosoczka doesn’t keep specific tabs on the auctions’ overall yields, he estimates that “probably close to 40 scholarships for 40 classes have been given over the years,” with the 2013 event resulting in another 10.