This fiction series is always in demand in my school library. I finally sat down to read the first book in the series this summer, right after I replaced all the missing copies from my library shelves and pre-ordered the 9th book in the series, due out on June 2, 2015. Dork Diaries has that magic that began with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Humor + drawings = appeal to just about every kind of reader. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I loved it.
Dork Diaries is the story of Nikki Maxwell, eighth grader at Westchester Country Day. She is the daughter of the school’s exterminator, there on scholarship. Nikki is having a tough time. New to the school, she is trying to fit in with the “CCP” (Cute, Cool & Popular) group at school. The group, led by the impossibly mean and snobby Mackenzie Hollister, has all the best clothes, cell phones and get invited to the best parties.
At first, I worried that I wouldn’t like Dork Diaries. In the beginning, as Russell sets the scene, the CCP’s mean girl talk is a little much for me. It is actually really mean. I didn’t want to read a book where the humor was all self-deprecating and the mean girl has all the power. Russell seems to know just how far to go, because then Nikki’s humor kicks in.
There are lots of funny parts in the book. I thought it was funny when Nikki’s parents try to cheer her up by putting positive messages around the house, saying things like “Be you OWN best friend.” and “Invite YOURSELF for a sleepover.” Unfortunately, those two notes were put in the toaster slot and ended up starting a small kitchen fire. The best part of the book, I think, is when Nikki writes about her interactions with people in her diary. As she describes a scene, she’ll “say” something that makes you say to yourself…”OMG, she did NOT just say that out loud…”. Then, it’s followed immediately by “But I just said that inside my head, so no one else heard it but me.” Those moments totally cracked me up, because even though they happened throughout the book, they always surprised me.
Nikki goes through a lot of trials during her first year at Westchester, but ends up ending the year with grace and with Mackenzie jealous of her. Go Nikki.
This book is most popular with my tweens and so could fit in an elementary school or middle school library.