Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life review

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell

Aladdin, 2009. 978-1-41698-006-3

Synopsis: Nikki Maxwell has just started at her new school, Westchester County Day Middle School, and she’s hoping to have a super-cool phone to get her a spot with the CCP (Cute, Cool, Popular) girls – but instead her brain dead mom gets her a diary. Diaries are for dorks, but this doesn’t stop Nikki from recording everything about her life – her new crush (Brandon), the mean girl (Mackenzie), her friends (Chloe and Zoey), her lame school job (library shelver), and her passions (art, painting).

Why I picked it up: I was told to read it by the two nine-year-olds I babysit for – in their words, “It’s so good! The boy one is good too, but since we’re girls, read the girl one.”

Why I finished it: I read this book and remember middle school vividly – the crushes, the mean girls, the teachers, the trying to fit in – and love that this diary portrays all of it so accurately. I even had a Mackenzie – her name was Holly – but I dealt more with that in elementary school and high school than I did in middle school. Nikki’s observations about her classmates, her family, and her friends are endearing and funny, and I totally felt for her in all of the embarrassing situations she found herself in. I was a little puzzled at her fascination with Tyra Banks, but I had far more embarrassing celebrity fascinations – it’s what all junior high girls do, right? I was laughing through most of the book, partially because the writing is so good and because I was thinking about how thankful I am that I was never subjected to getting tripped in the cafeteria. Younger readers will likely appreciate Nikki’s honest voice and older readers will read and remember (fondly and not so fondly) their own school struggles. With more books in the series, I can’t wait to see what Nikki will be writing about next!

Other related materials: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl by Rachel Renée Russell; Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renée Russell; Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney; Dear Dumb Diary books by Jim Benton; Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini; The Popularity Papers books by Amy Ignatow; Mackenzie Blue books by Tina Wells; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce; Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson; Rumors from the Boys’ Room: A Blogtastic! Novel by Rose Cooper; NERDS books by Michael Buckley

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