Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Homerooms and Hall Passes

O'Donnell, Tom. Homerooms and Hall Passes
October 8th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Albiorix is a young Medieval wizard from the mystical realm of Bríandalör 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 H&H 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 Bríandalör is hysterical when they turn those expectations on their ears! Of COURSE Devis puts mustard on pizza. 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 Bríandalör 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!

Some things that are out now that you need to have!

Bacon, Lee. The Last Human
October 8th 2019 by Amulet Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I read this, but the pages of the E ARC moved so slowly that it took about two weeks to get through this. I loved this author's Joshua Dread series, and this was a solid robot adventure, but I don't feel I can review this properly. I'll buy a library copy and will need to read it again. Definitely take a look if robot adventures are popular in your library!

From Goodreads. com
In the future, robots have eliminated humans, and 12-year-old robot XR_935 is just fine with that. Without humans around, there is no war, no pollution, no crime. Every member of society has a purpose. Everything runs smoothly and efficiently. Until the day XR discovers something impossible: a human girl named Emma. Now, Emma must embark on a dangerous voyage with XR and two other robots in search of a mysterious point on a map. But how will they survive in a place where rules are never broken and humans aren’t supposed to exist? And what will they find at the end of their journey?"

Read Elizabeth L. Cline's The Conscious Closet, which had lots of good information, but since I bought this dress in 1997, I'm pretty sure I have gotten #30wears out of it. The vest is new to me, but the original owner put "2000" on the back of the tag, which I assume is the year she bought it. Since it cost $2, my cost per wear is... $2.

Remember, I have an archive, not a closet, so her advice about paring down fell on deaf ears. I do have extreme closet contentment (I love what I have and feel good wearing everything), and really do wear about 95% of what I own. That purple velvet mini dress my mother bought in 1969? My Gunne Sax dress from 1988? Don't wear those a lot. I do donate back things I no longer wear, so I feel good about my clothing policies.

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