Roll for Initiative

by Jaime Formato

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Perfect for fans of Dungeons & Dragons, Raina Telgemeier, and Jessica Kim, a heartfelt coming-of-age middle grade novel about finding your voice and believing in your best geeky self.

Riley Henderson has never taken a bus to school in her entire life. Or made an afterschool snack, or finished her homework on her...
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Published By Running Press Kids

Format Hardback


Number Of Pages 320

Publication Date 09/27/2022

ISBN 9780762481064

Dimensions 5.85 inches x 8.55 inches

A middle schooler starts up a Dungeons & Dragons party. 
Sixth grader Riley’s best (and only) friend is her older brother, Devin, who’s left Florida for California and college; now she’s facing middle school alone. Having to learn independence without Devin’s guidance and hand-holding, she decides to write a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for him so when he comes home for the holidays, she can take a turn as their Dungeon Master. But Riley draws the attention of Lucy, a neighbor Riley thought was too cool for her, who wants to play D&D. Soon they’re joined by Hannah, a high-energy neighbor from their apartment building, and Jen, an artistic, high-achiever classmate. Riley’s emotional, sensitive nature—which causes her social anxiety—enables her to perceive the insecurities of those closest to her and support them. Her growing confidence is challenged by her brother’s purist take on D&D, however, especially when his own emotional fragility brings him home early, expecting to take on his old caretaker role and cramping her newly autonomous style and social life. The D&D elements give enough detail to guide a new player and capture the tabletop game vibe without overwhelming the narrative. The interpersonal conflicts are all based in affection and care, and the ending rewards Riley’s growth. Riley, her family, and Hannah are White; Jen is Black, and Lucy has a Black father and White mother. Spot art enhances the text.
Maxes out its stats in empathy, creativity, and character growth. (Fiction. 8-14)
— Kirkus

“Formato’s debut rises to the occasion with a thoughtful tale of self-acceptance set against the backdrop of multisided dice. . . . The cherry on top is the magical in-text D&D gameplay, unlocking the game’s fantastical escapism and bonding opportunities.”
— School Library Journal

"A fun-filled winner, Roll for Initiative will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike. Readers will root for Riley as she navigates through friendships and family while keeping her first D&D campaign on track. A fantastic reminder that everyone can use a confidence boost, even those who seemingly have it all together."

"Formato's middle grade debut is a dazzling story about growing up and finding yourself along the way. This is the book that every D&D playing, comic book reading, gamer girl needs; I would adventure with Riley and her friends any day."

"Roll for Initiative will fan your creative spark and make you feel like you can do anything. I wish I were lucky enough to play a game at Riley’s table."

"An adorably awkward coming-of-age story that blends the fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons with a story of friendship and self-discovery. Roll for Initiative is a charming and heartfelt book about seizing opportunities and growing up with a sense of adventure."

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