Bad enough history class is so boring; now it’s keeping Hal from getting his own room.
Sixth-grade history teacher Mr. Tupkin is making everyone keep journals for a time capsule to inform people 100 years from now about daily life in the 21st century—so history even makes the future lame. Hal’s history-buff dad says that he won’t move his fix-it business out of the spare room (so Hal can move in) unless Hal’s D in history becomes a B. Hal’s doomed to share a room with his baby sisters forever. Mom’s no help; she’s too busy studying acupuncture, forcing veganism on the family and taking in hand-me-downs from a bully for Hal to wear. His best friend, Arnie, is unsympathetic and, incredibly, more interested in the middle school dance than in important stuff like getting to level 13 on RavenCave. A fight with Arnie and a blowout with Dad make sixth-grade the worst year ever…can anything save it? Can anything save Hal? Campbell’s debut is fast and funny and dotted with drawings, labeled pictures and goofy timelines. Hal’s authentic voice and realistic 12-year-old sense of humor will hook Wimpy Kid fans, and the idea that history is more than facts and quotes comes across nicely without seeming forced.
A certain series starter (thankfully), given the promise of an interesting summer in the final pages. (Fiction. 8-12)