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In the mystical realm of Br andal r, every day the brave and the bold delve into hidden temples or forgotten dungeons, battling vile monsters and evil wizards to loot their treasure hoards for sweet, sweet magic itemsBut in their free time, our heroes Thromdurr the mighty barbarian, Devis the shifty thief, Vela the noble paladin, Sorrowshade the Gloom Elf assassin, and Albiorix the good wizard need to relax and unwindThat s why they meet up once a week to play Homerooms Hall Passes a role playing game where they assume the characters of average American eighth gradersBut when the five young adventurers are magically transported into their HH game by an ancient curse, they must band together to survive their toughest challenge yet middle schoolWho knew that battling ogres would be easier than passing algebra or navigating the cafeteria social scene They must use what they ve learned from playing Homerooms Hall Passes to figure out how to save their game world which might actually be realDungeons Dragons meets Jumanji in this new, laugh out loud adventure series from the author of the beloved Hamstersaurus Rex series E ARC from Edelweiss PlusAlbiorix is a young Medieval wizard from the mystical realm of Br andal r who is Hall Master for the role playing game Homerooms and Hall Passes He and his friends Thromdurr, a barbarian Sorrowshade, a gloom elf Vela, a paladin and Devis, a thief meet at a local pub in between their real life adventures thwarting evil orcs, rescuing jewels, etc to run their newest campaign, The Semester of Stultification Set in J.A Dewar Middle School, it involves each of Albi E ARC from Edelweiss PlusAlbiorix is a young Medieval wizard from the mystical realm of Br andal r who is Hall Master for the role playing game Homerooms and Hall Passes He and his friends Thromdurr, a barbarian Sorrowshade, a gloom elf Vela, a paladin and Devis, a thief meet at a local pub in between their real life adventures thwarting evil orcs, rescuing jewels, etc to run their newest campaign, The Semester of Stultification Set in J.A Dewar Middle School, it involves each of Albiorix s friends having an alter ego Thromdurr is Douglas, a Nerd Sorrowshade is Melissa the Loner Vela is Valerie, an overachiever, and Devis is Stinky, whose back story is not well developed When the group sits down to play, they start with Spirit Week at the school, but they are all suddenly whisked into the realm of the game Of course, they all look a bit unusual in their Medieval garb, and have to stow their weapons in the auditorium closet Not only that, but as Hall Master, Albiorix doesn t exist, so he has to pretend to be Armando, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada He lives in a supply closet with a little used floor polisher and subsists off cheese crackers he buys from the vending machine with magicked coins He also consults his 26 guides to the world of HH in order to understand the classes, teachers, etc He must provide the principal with documentation, and asks another new student, June Westray She is understanding of the group s eccentricities, helps Armando with the computer, and also ends up helping the group with algebra, a subject with which they struggle mightily The group believes that if they can run a successful campaign, they will get home, and there are several different problems they must face, but when Armando conjures the evil wizard Zazirak by using the Malnomicon, and the wizard takes over the body of the assistant principal, the group must save both of their worlds.Strengths This made me laugh and laugh and laugh, and I really needed that after the summer of Serious Middle Grade Books with Serious but Trendy Problems Oh, my Thromdurr Loved him SO MUCH And when I say laugh, I mean snorted unbecomingly Again and again I have a small group of students who believe in their heart of hearts that I will be able to teach them to play Dungeons and Dragons, which is super sweet but not going to happen because it involves, as Albiorix knows, a huge background knowledge of the game, which I will never possess, and those students each need their own personal copy of this book There is a deep understanding of middle school students and how they operate, and the group from Br andal r is hysterical when they turn those expectations on their ears Of COURSE Devis puts mustard on piza I m just surprised he didn t suck the mustard packets Oh, I give up Yes, there is literary merit in this book, but the best part of this was that it was hysterically funny Just buy it, especially if Denis Markell s The Game Masters of Garden Place is popular in your library.Weaknesses I was a bit thrown when Albiorix s teacher from Br andal r showed up at the school and whisked them all back, then they had to find a way to return and deal with Zazirak It took me out of the story, briefly Readers who have never heard of Dungeons and Dragons might need some front loading of information What I really think I think that, like John David Anderson s Insert Coin to Continue, the only responsible thing I can do is to buy at least three copies and put it on the Battle of the Books list next year Middle school is truly brutal, said Sorrowshade, and I say this as someone whose entire family was eaten by minotaurs So, so charming A clever premise and a squad of likeable characters have me hoping this is the beginning of a series This is perfect for the young and not so young nerd on your list. Review originally published 3 April 2020 at Falling Letters.I thought Homeroom Hall Passes s premise sounded hilarious and unique My initial concern was that it would be over the top silly, but it is not For example, each chapter begins with an excerpt from The Hall Master s Guide These excerpts, while funny enough to make me chuckle, also often frame the unique experiences of middle school in such a way as to validate the challenges readers may experience.In the real world, political aut Review originally published 3 April 2020 at Falling Letters.I thought Homeroom Hall Passes s premise sounded hilarious and unique My initial concern was that it would be over the top silly, but it is not For example, each chapter begins with an excerpt from The Hall Master s Guide These excerpts, while funny enough to make me chuckle, also often frame the unique experiences of middle school in such a way as to validate the challenges readers may experience.In the real world, political authority comes from noble birth, or in rare cases because someone found a magic sword But in middle school, class presidents are chosen democratically This process involves homemade posters, wildly unrealistic promises, and capturing a plurality of the votes cast by the class Though the title of class president is largely meaningless, it is still relentlessly sought by Overachievers, Nerds, Jocks, and Class Clowns alike Pg 162 The story is told from Hall Master Albiorix s perspective He functions as the grounded and relatable character of the party As the HM, he doesn t have a character to embody once his party is sucked into the game Albiorix remains himself and gives readers an easy entry point into the worlds of Br andal r and Homerooms Hall Passes.The story balances mundane and fantasy elements I appreciated that the main conflict ultimately involved a fantastical demon rather than just defeating middle school I think that would have pushed the book too close to contemporary fiction rather than speculative for my tastes No spoilers, but the conclusion wasn t quite what I expected It adds a lot to the story I imagine readers unfamiliar with DD could still enjoy this book, while readers who are familiar with DD will get evenlaughs out of it.The Bottom Line A refreshing mash up of the quest narrative and surviving middle school stories Try it with readers who love both or either fantasy and contemporary and of course, with DD players Funny and really well done, this has hints of Stranger Things about it The characters are great, and the stakes feel believable Also Stinky and all his soups were extremely entertaining Great for middle school readers looking for an adventure that blends fantasy and reality.