Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call, Molly Knox Ostertag/Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, (Nov. 2022, HarperAlley), $19.99, ISBN: 9780063039247
This graphic novel is just what I needed to booktalk D&D to my Corona Kids! Combining D&D fantasy roleplaying with fantasy storytelling, Roll Call is the first in a new series, written by the amazing Molly Knox Ostertag and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, who illustrates the 5 Worlds series – another series I can’t keep on my shelves. Olivia and Jess are best friends who make up incredible stories: it’s how they met on a school playground, and it’s brought them even closer in their 2-person Dungeons & Dragons campaign. They’re heading to middle school, which Olivia is really excited about. Jess? Not so much, especially when Olivia decides to expand their D&D campaign into a full-on school club. Not willing to share her game time and her best friend with anyone, Jess expresses her frustration through the game, and when it affects one of the new members of the club, Jess discovers that sometimes, you need to find room in your heart – and in your dungeon-raiding party – for new friends.
Ostertag’s got storytelling down, effortlessly moving back and forth between fantasy and reality. I’m excited for more backstory as the series develops; Jess is Diné from the Navajo Nation, living with her father, and playing a character named Sir Corius. Olivia is Afro-Latina, sporting hot-pink hair and can effortlessly rattle off character and monster stats, several of which are incorporated into the story; it gives readers a sense of game play. Having story characters create genderfluid, speciesfluid characters is wonderful, inviting readers to see what so many of us have known for a while: you don’t have to conform to any gender in the game. It says so in the Player’s Handbook! Bouma’s vibrant illustration creates personable characters and exciting fantasy settings. The whole story comes together beautifully and is an excellent choice for readers who are interested in gaming, fantasy, and realistic fiction. Display and booktalk these with any of your fantasy roleplaying graphic novels, like 5 Worlds and Dragon Prince; The Witch Boy; Popular MMOs and Dan TDM, and the Dungeon Academy middle grade novel series by Madeline Roux.
2 thoughts on “Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Club Roll Call: Where Middle School is the Dungeon”
Ahh, it’s books like these that make me wish I still did school visits! I will at least make sure my library gets some copies…
My D&D group fizzled after Summer Reading so I hope this rejuvenates interest.