Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries #1)

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Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries #1)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
June 02, 2009
ISBN
1416980067
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It’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls in this hilarious new novel!

Dork Diaries follows eighth grader Nikki Maxwell as she chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iPhone; her enthusiasm for drawing and art; and a love/hate fascination with the new school’s queen bee, a girl named Mackenzie, who becomes Nikki’s rival in a schoolwide art competition. Nikki writes about friendships, crushes, popularity, and family with a unique and fresh voice that still conveys a universal authenticity. Nikki’s sketches throughout her diary add humor and spunk to the book, a surefire hit with tween girl readers.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Adorkable
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Rachel Renee Russell's debut, is an illustrated novel sure to appeal to tweens. When Nikki Maxwell transfers to a new school in eighth grade, her mother gives her a diary. Even though Nikki thinks it's dorky and she'd really rather have a cell phone, she starts writing in the diary. She surprises herself with how much she likes journaling, and she decorates her entries with her artwork (also drawn by the auhor).


Nikki's new school, Westchester Country Day, is a private school. Her first impression of her classmates: they are all cooler and wealthier than she is, with their brand name clothing and electronics, while she's only there because her father, a bug exterminator, got a contract with the school. She feels as though she's invisible to her classmates, especially the CC&P (Cute, Cool, and Popular) crowd. Happily, she finds friends in Zoey and Chloe. Even better, her desires for popularity and the latest gadgets fade over the course of the book. Yes, she does complain about her life being unfair or horrible at times, but that is simply keeping in the voice of a middle school narrator. She sounds more content as the book goes on and she becomes more comfortable with herself and her new surroundings.


Nikki has her good days and bad days, that's for sure. She sometimes feels embarrassed by her parents, and other times, she embarrasses herself in front of her classmates and her crush, Brandon. She gets stung by the words of super popular MacKenzie, who unfortunately has the locker next to hers. She really wants to enter the school art contest, but her confidence in her abilities depends on her mood. While she loves hanging out with her friends, she likes being alone every now and then, to daydream or draw or sulk or shout. Readers will easily ride the waves with Nikki, because all of these happenings will be completely familiar to anyone who has ever had to endure the drama of middle school.


I was pleased by the book's inclusion of the school library. The girls do their school service there. In the beginning, Nikki kind of thinks it's boring. Later on, when the librarian, Mrs. Peach, announces her plan to take six of her most committed assistants on a three-day trip to New York City to celebrate National Library Week, Chloe and Zoey freak out. Initially, Nikki doesn't share her friends' interest in this event, but once they find a way to combine Nikki's artistic talents with a book drive, she's totally on board. Soon, though, she feels like she's doing the majority of the work, and she gets really upset - until her friends find a way to show her their appreciation.


This book really looks like a diary, with lined pages, almost-daily entries in a font that looks like handwriting, and adorable black-and-white sketches throughout. The books-in-print page credits the design to Lisa Vega and names the font: Skippy Sharp. Russell's drawings are manga-Americana-cute, and it's neat to see Nikki's drawings of her friends, her family, her crush, and herself. The art on the cover of the book - which is reappears inside - reveals that Nikki is left-handed! My favorite illustrations appear on pages 26, 30, 214, and 220. Please note that these are the page numbers from the advance reviewer copy. Pagination may have changed in the final version.


One of my favorite supporting characters is Nikki's energetic and curious younger sister Brianna. I think she would totally get along with Tammy from Why I Let My Hair Grow Out and How I Found the Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood. I also liked her break-dancing, Price-is-Right-addicted grandmother, who encouraged Nikki to tackle challenges head-on rather than shy away from them.


If you're giving Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney to elementary school readers and So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol and David Ostow to teens, then make sure to give Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell to your middle schoolers. Pair it with Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm, Elicia Castaldi, and Matthew Holm, and you'll be all set!

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4 reviews

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4.2
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0  (4)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.3  (3)
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Dork Diaries
(Updated: September 24, 2013)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
I love this book series! Nikki is so funny and cool! I can't wait to read book 7!
Nikki makes her hatred for Mackenzie seem so real, same as her friendships with Chloe and Zoey. Although, her little sister is crazy!
K
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I LOVE IT!!!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
The best parts of the book Dork Diaries is the drama, family problems and the making friends problems of the book.

This book involves a lot of drama one of the many drama problems is Mackenzie the most popular girl in school. She causes a lot of problems by making people feel bad. This is probably the most interesting thing about the book. One of the problems is that Nikki the main character comes to a new school and she is having problem making new friends but Mackenzie is making it worse and harder for her to make friends, by making her feel bad in public. That is basic drama in the book.
The family problems are very little. The thing that makes Nikki get annoyed more than the drama. One thing is that Nikki’s parents just barge into her room without permission. Also her family is psycho.
The making friends problem is that when ever she gets to school she feels like everyone thinks that she is a loser. In reality the only people who think that are Mackenzie and her gang of popular friends. In this book you feel so bad for Nikki because she never gets the attention she deserves and when she does gets attention it’s always something negative. This book is easy to relate to! I hope you will read the book and the whole series it’s great!
Good Points
Easy to relate to, Good characters
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Cliche and Trite
Overall rating 
 
2.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
2.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
3.0
After an intense month of reading novels with intercultural themes, I thought a break, in the form of chick lit might be warranted. Turns out, I don’t always have smart ideas. In my second week of delving into light reading, I’m already flipping pages just to get to the end of another dang book. This time my reading adventures led me to Dork Diaries by Rachel Russell, which I checked out because it was being touted as the girls’ equivalent to the Wimpy Kid series. The latter I am proud to share with my students. As for Dork Diaries, the first book in the series was such a bore that I won’t be reading any further.

The first reason I don’t like Dork Diariess is the paint-by-numbers plot. It’s all about Nikki, who wants to be popular but is a dork. She desperately wants to be asked out by cute-guy Brandon, but thinks he is unaware of her existence. And oh, by the way, mean-girl Mackenzie hates Nikki’s guts. If you think this plot sounds anything like Baby Mouse, which I reviewed last week, give yourself a pat on the back. If you think the plot sounds anything like half the chick-lit books you have read in the last year or in your lifetime, you now know why I was so eager for Dork Diaries to end.

In all fairness, I’ll admit there are some scenes between Nikki and Mackenzie that I halfway liked. For example, there is school Halloween dance. Although it came as no surprise that Mackenzie was voted chairperson for it, she did manage to temporarily shock a few people with her emotional resignation from the position. However, it soon became apparent, when all of Mackenzie’s friends also immediately quit, that she had an evil plan. You see, Mackenzie apparently has rich sponsors that enable her to afford to pay for an extravagant party. Yes, the clichés keep coming. Anyway, while I found this psychotic meanness on Mackenzie’s part over-the-top, I kind of enjoyed watching Nikki and her friends figure out how to save the day. If you think that revelation is a spoiler, I bet you can guess for yourself who asks Nikki to the dance.

The second reason I don’t like Dork Diaries is the main character. Even though author Rachel Russell didn’t exactly write in run-on sentences, I still felt as if as if Nikki would never shut up. Yes, Nikki is the main character and so should narrate the story, but most of the time she just endlessly spews random complaints with no basis in reality. Why does Nikki call herself a dork? She has loyal friends, gets attention from at least one guy, and likes to shop and party. Why does she ever doubt Brandon will ask her out? At the very least, why does she think he’ll ask out Mackenzie? He hangs around with Nikki, talks with Nikki, and acts like Nikki’s friend. Not once does he ever seriously talk to Mackenzie. Last, why does Mackenzie’s life revolve around ridiculing Nikki?

There are chick lit books which I love, such as My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison which differs from Dork Diaries on so many levels. For one thing, the main character gets herself into scrapes of her own making and then gets herself out of them by learning some lessons about sisters, boys, love, and life. As for the Wimpy Kid series, to which the Dork Diaries are compared, Greg might sometimes be a jerk but somehow his life feels a whole lot truer than Nikki’s.
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Dork Diaries an awesome tale
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Alexis G.

I read the book Dork Diaries: Tales From A Not So Fabulous Life. This book is by Rachel Renee Russell. In the book a girl name Nikki goes to a new private school, Westchester Country Day School. In Nikki's opinion finding friends, classes, and where to sit at lunch is a challenge.  Also Nikki hates having a locker next to Mackenzie( aka the mean popular girl.) At least she gets one good thing for right now.  She might get to meet some friends. One of the cruelest parts is that one day she ALMOST missed a ride to school.  Another cruel part is when she gets trapped in Mackenzie's house.  She also gets to experience what it is like to be a normal teenager.  She has an annoying little sister Brianna. I think the author did a good job of explaining things clearly.  I had a great picture in my head of what was going on.   One thing Rachel Russell could have done better was to explain why Mackenzie is always so mean to people.  I think girls 10 and up who enjoy funny and cartoon style stories would love this book.  My overall rating is 4 stars out of 5.  Dork Diaries is a fun, quick read.
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