A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some lore and information about the creatures, magic, and realms of Dungeons & Dragons.
Sometimes where you belong is right under your nose. Alternative family formations are real families too. Adoptive mothers can be just as real as biological mothers. Be brave and stand up for your friends and those in need. Those who are different don't deserve ridicule or bullying behavior. Heroes can come in any shape or size. Creativity can be just as powerful as a hammer.
Positive Role Models
Zellidora Stormclash is a fantastic hero and one whose drive to understand her place in the world is matched by her drive to protect those in need (like fellow students). She becomes a champion for the weak and different, learns about what real family really is, and how to be a good friend. Her friends, Snabla, Hugo, and Bauble, are each wonderful companions, go against the grain of their species. (Hugo, the owlbear, for instance, is a vegetarian and doesn't like fighting, and the mimic, Bauble, can't turn into anything violent). Even when Zelli confesses her secret, they support her and continue to be friends.
The adventure is set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, so there are a lot of monsters running around, floating heads, skulls, owlbears, kobolds, goblins, slaads, skeletons, and necromancers. Aside from that, the main human character (the only one) is a Black human girl with a ferocious roar.
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Violence & Scariness
There's a fair amount of fighting during the second half of the adventure. The party fights skeletons, mind-controlled monsters, necromancers, and other creatures, many of which are illustrated. Monsters also threaten to "chop them in two," "tear out their throats," and "eat to pieces." There are swords, axes, shields, magic, and sorcery, and other weaponry. Monsters are destroyed, killed, and defeated. Some of the talk about necromancy raising the dead, the floating demilich skulls, and the evil skeletons could scare younger readers, especially some of the illustrations. Some found coins have blood on them. A girl gets bitten by an owlbear on the shoulder, and the wound bleeds. A teacher at school mentions that a captured villain, "will be questioned..." implying that torture or like techniques might occur.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some students make fun of another student for having a crush on someone. Some students say certain activities are just "boy stuff."
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Insulting language includes: "loser," "dummy," "sodding," "(numb)-skull," "fart breath," and "bully." Adoptees and adoptee families may bristle at the casual usage of "real mother" when referring to "birth mother" or "biogenetically related parent."
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Products & Purchases
This novel is Dungeons & Dragons intellectual property, owned by Wizards of the Coast.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A weird ooze-like substance is used by a necromancer to control others.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed!, by Diane Walker and illustrated by Tim Probert, is the first book in the Dungeons Academy series and set in the world of the popular Dungeons & Dragons game. It's a middle grade fantasy adventure about Zellidora Stormclash, a human girl raised by two monster Minotaur moms. Left in a basket as a baby, Zelli was picked up by her minotaur mothers and raised in a world of monsters. Now in school, the Dungeon Academy, she wears fake horns and a fake tail to ensure nobody will find out she's actually a human. Curious about why she was abandoned, Zelli sets out on an adventure to try to find her birth mother. The only problem is that her birth mother's entire family is the sworn enemy of monsters. There's a fair amount of fighting, some scary illustrations of skeletons, skulls, and other monsters, and some scenes of peril and danger. Monsters also threaten characters by saying, "I'll chop you in two," "tear out your throat," and "eat you to pieces." There are swords, axes, shields, magic, and sorcery, and other weaponry. When a girl gets bitten by an owlbear on the shoulder, the wound bleeds for a while. One friend has a crush on a classmate. This is a fun adventure about family, friendship, and a girl trying to find where she belongs.
Is It Any Good?
A fun and clever way to set up an adventure in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, this middle grade romp is fast, fun, and charming. The emotional core to Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed! is strong and endearing, and like a mystery, Zellidora's journey toward answers about her past efficiently drives the story forward. Along the way, she picks up some "different" monster friends, protects those who are in need, and faces off against an intimidating villain to save the day. A tale of family, friendship, and what it means to belong, Zellidora's quest features a strong Black girl heroe, lots of action, and a generally satisfying conclusion.
For some, however, the subject of reunion with a birth mother could be a sensitive issue. For many adoptees and adoptee families, the prospect of reunions with birth mothers, parents, and families can be a fraught and complicated thing.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.