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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2009
I can't believe how much I enjoyed the new middle grade book DORK DIARIES: TALES FROM A NOT-SO-FABULOUS LIFE by Rachel Renee Russell. I guess you could say I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to this book -- basically, I didn't want to put it down. It was just so much fun to read, and I absolutely couldn't wait to hear what my nine year old daughter thought.

I just adored this book. I loved the character of Nikki and felt that almost all young girls are going to be able to relate to her. She has the "normal" middle school insecurities such as the desire to be popular, wondering who she can trust as a friend, and fear of being laughed at. It's been a long time since I was in eighth grade, but I could definitely relate to being the new girl in school -- it's very hard at that age!

While there were certainly times that I felt Nikki's pain, I'd say for the most part this book was a hoot! Nikki was a terrific character who had a great perspective on her life. I found myself laughing hysterically at her attempts to get an iPhone, and I also thought the scenes with her little sister to be fantastic. (Like Nikki, I had a sister who was a good bit younger.) And her parents....well, as a parent I probably shouldn't have thought they were so funny, but the way Nikki described their actions was hilarious. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this story.

Since DORK DIARIES is supposed to read like Nikki's actual diary, the book had a really cool format with interesting fonts and amazing illustrations. I loved the look of this book and thought that Nikki's drawings really enhanced the story and allowed the reader to better understand Nikki. Ms. Russell is not only a fantastic writer but also a terrific artist! The various pictures of Nikki's life were just adorable while also being extremely funny. DORK DIARIES is very easy to read with the font and pictures, and I think this book will appeal to even the most reluctant reader. I am sincerly hoping that it's going to be the first in a series. I definitely want to see more of Nikki and her family and friends.

I have a feeling that this book is going to be a big hit with middle grade girls. When my daughter took this book to school, the girls were all over it -- asking her questions like "where did you get it?," "how did you get it?," "can I borrow it?," etc. I think the cover alone will attract many young girls because it is just so cute.

I definitely recommend this book for any middle grade girl in your life, although I have to admit that I enjoyed it a great deal too! The messages in this book are fantastic -- ones that young girls need to hear over and over again. I like that the book focused on what's really important in our lives such as family and friends. This book also showed that it's normal to feel insecure at this age, but I'm hoping that young girls will see how Nikki coped and learn from her. In fact, my daughter thought Nikki was great and didn't understand why she thought she was a "dork." I jumped at this opportunity and told her that maybe some people would say the exact same thing about her! (I think it's sometimes easier to see things in others.) I also liked the message that girls who seem to have it all, sometimes don't; and that it does pay to be a nice girl and a good friend.

I wasn't surprised when my daughter absolutely devoured this book. I don't think we saw her face the entire time she was reading DORK DIARIES because she had her nose buried in the pages. Here are some of her thoughts:

I liked DORK DIARIES because it was really made me laugh. It was kind of sad too in parts of the story, but it was still funny. I liked Nikki because she is really funny. I liked her drawings of the characters. I sometimes feel geeky and nerdy at school, so I understood how Nikki felt.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 17, 2009
Dork Diaries was a complete impulse buy. After leafing through a few pages and deciding to take it home (mostly because I thought the drawings were cute), I zipped through it in an afternoon.

The story recounts, in gory detail, how fourteen year old Nikki Maxwell is adjusting to life in her new school. She comes from an average middle class family, but the school is an upper class haven; she only attended because her father received the pest extermination contract and cajoled a scholarship for his daughter. Of course, if anyone--especially MacKenzie, the uber-rich mean girl and leader of the CCP (Cute, Cool & Popular crowd)--found out that she was the daughter of the man driving around town with a GINORMOUS cockroach on his van, her life would be over before it even began.

Nikki's mother, in an attempt to open her daughter's lines of communication, gets her a diary. Of course, Nikki was expecting a new iPhone, so she had a minor meltdown. But as she warms up to the idea of writing in a diary, we come to see who Nikki is as a person, and ultimately, what matters most to her. She's a multi-dimensional (and far from perfect) character, which made her charming.

She was artistic, creative, sometimes self-centered, and sometimes self-conscious. I found myself relating because people don't always see the forest for the trees, and we become paranoid that our friends aren't being true friends, that the world truly will end if we don't fit in with the popular people, and lose sight of what's important. And we watch as she matures through her various experiences and learns valuable lessons: the grass isn't always greener on the other side, be true to yourself, don't judge a book by its cover, and running away from problems won't solve them.

The writing itself was pleasant and witty, but sometimes the overzealous use of all-caps wore on me. The illustrations throughout, which highlighted Nikki's commentary, were adorable. One in particular--when she's forced to reveal the cell phone she purchased for $12.99 on eBay--was hilarious; I laughed until a tear sprang forth. Unfortunately, the subsequent illustrations didn't illicit the same reaction, but they were still well done and comical. I did make one other observation about the artwork and its continuity--sometimes Nikki was right-handed and sometimes left. It's possible she's ambidextrous, but somehow I believe it was a minor oversight.

All-in-all, this was a delightful and quick book. Although I don't believe too many boys would be interested in Nikki's story, I would certainly recommend it to girls who are coming of age and even adults who want to reminisce.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell is a delightful book for middle school kids, especially girls (9-13), but truth be told I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm a whole lot older! It's full of all kinds of great little sketches and doodles and is written in a diary format with entries by 14 year old, eighth grader, Nikki Maxwell.

Nikki is attending a new private school courtesy of her father getting her a scholarship as he's the new exterminator for the school, a fact that causes Nikki never ending embarrassment and horror at being discovered. Now Nikki isn't exactly private school material and she knows it. She thinks to fit in she needs a new cell phone, new clothes and very likely a new family as hers certainly can't afford all those things. Above all, her parents or 'rents as she calls them just don't get it! She can't fit in at a private school-she's just not one of them so who are they kidding?

Fast forward to the first day of school and of course, the always most popular girl who this time happens to be the rich, pretty and 'mean' Mackenzie. Nikki is torn between hating her and wanting to be like her and have her as a friend. After all, that would put her in line with the popular kids, the CCP-Cute, Cool & Popular. Even worse, Nikki's locker is right beside Mackenzie's so she has to tolerate Miss Perfect and her attitude every day. Then came the art competition which Nikki had been intimidated by Mackenzie not to enter. Nikki is a really talented artist already and deep down she knows she can do well. Finally, she throws caution to the wind and enters but that ends up being a whole other story too.

I should also mention that Dork Diaries is downright funny. I found myself laughing out loud throughout. There's the cute little sayings like GGG-ing which is giggling, gossiping, & glossing. Also , throughout the book, Nikki screams or says things inside her head-always so one else hears but her. How many of us do that? I still do that. Added to that are the cartoons which really add so much to the telling of Nikki's story.

What I loved most about this book is how real Nikki is-she's a normal 14 year old girl with all the worries and fears that come with it. I love how this book relates the fact that you don't have to be popular and belong to the in-crowd to have fun and have friends. You can carve out your own little space in the world. Yes, it's a struggle but it can be done. This is why young girls are going to love this book-because it's true to life and maybe even very close to what they're experiencing at that very time. There's maybe even a hint of first love which is really sweet.

Perfect reading for a young girl or for a mother/daughter read. I found it really took me back to memories of being in grade school myself. Let's face it, for most of us it's a rough time. We're just learning about ourselves and really trying to find our place in it all while lacking the self confidence to achieve it. This books shows girls that it's ok not to be the popular one. You can be just as happy if not happier just by being yourself!
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 3, 2009
This book was HILARIOUS! Nikki Maxwell has the greatest imagination from turning a old hearing aid into a faux cell phone to making up stories about the tooth fairy to scare her little sister, Nikki is always right on the ball. I just love the author's sense of humor!

When I found out that Dork Diaries was a diary that also included illustrations and comic strips I was sold. There is no way you can go wrong with a diary format and comics. And it worked out so well. Some of my favorite drawings were an overview of the cafeteria and reading themed tattoos! The drawings definitely enhanced the story and made Nikki come to life that much more! It's definitely one of my favorite styles of storytelling!

So many of the situations that Nikki finds herself in are pretty easy to relate to. I really liked how well rounded the story was, there was friendship, art (I'm all about the art), crushes, family, humiliation, bullies, fitting in, it's all there. So while the book was laugh out loud funny at parts, I liked how it dealt with issues that young girls find themselves dealing with everyday, a great balance I think!

All in all, Dork Diaries is a fun, hilarious, and sweet book!
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2010
My favorite book is Dork Diary. I like this book, because it tells all about a girl's life at her new school. There is nothing that I don't like. I think you should read this book if you're a girl. It tells about girl troubles in life. It has up to one hundred or more pages, and if you don't like reading that much you shouldn't pick this book. You can find this book at the library or the book store, and if you really want to read this book, you should ask your mom right now to speed down to the book store! If you get in a fight, because it's the last book in the shelf ask your mom to help you fight. Thank you for reading what my favorite book is, and remember - read more books!

By Ondrea
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 14, 2009
Eighth grader Nikki Maxwell candidly shares with us the journaling of her no-so-fabulous days at her new private school Westchester Day School. Nikki's father, being the new exterminator, earned her a scholarship to a school where she doesn't fit in with the rich and snobby CCP (Cute, Cool & Popular) clique led by the snarky Mackenzie.

Nikki knows that in order to dazzle the new crowd into accepting her she needs a new iPhone but her `rents stubbornly refuse to buy her one. Her Mom even goes so far as to tell her that if she really wants one she'll have to save up and buy it with her own money. Ugh!

Just when everything seems to be doomed the school announces a school-wide art competition where the first prize is $500!! Nikki knows she's totally got this since she's an artist with plenty art camp experience. Nikki runs to the school office to sign up and who does she run into??? None other than Mackenzie. No way is she brave enough to compete against the queen bee of WDS. Can she turn one disaster after another into triumph?

Dork Diaries is simply fabulous! I've been in Nikki's shoes a time or two as I changed schools 8 different times while growing up so I can totally sympathize with being new girl on the block. At least my Dad didn't drive me to school with a giant roach on top of his van.

The entire book is Nikki's diary filled with hilarious stories and amazing drawings (also illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell). It's the perfect read for young girls who agonize over not being part of the in-crowd like I used to. Nikki goes from the zero to a hero and then finally settles nicely into her niche as a typical teen. I recommend this read for all YA lovers.
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58 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2009
Dork Diaries is very much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, only for girls. Since I am a fan of that series, I was really excited to read this book. Nikki Maxwell, an enormously funny character, is getting ready to start a new school. She wants to be part of the CCP group. CCP stands for cute, cool, and popular. She's positive that if her mother purchased her a new iPhone, it would secure her a spot there.

Nikki's mother arrives home with a back-to-school present she purchased at the mall. Nikki is positive it's an iPhone. What does her mother purchase for her instead? A diary. Although Nikki swears not write in the diary, she does. And because she is artist, many of the pages include her sketches.

Even though Nikki doesn't get an iPhone, that doesn't stop the desire. An opportunity presents itself when Nikki learns about an art contest. The grand prize is $500. The only problem is Mackenzie Hollister, leader of the CCP group, is also entering. Mackenzie will do whatever it takes to win.

There was so much to love about the book. The ending was different than I expected, which was a great surprise. What I liked best was seeing her grow in the book. Nikki experienced some pretty horrible things, but she did find friends - good friends, not the superficial CCP ones.

This review is by Nona, my daughter.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2009
Dork Diaries: Tales from a NOT-SO Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell is a hilarious look at middle school from a girls eye view. I adored this book and read it in one sitting and I can easily imagine a middle school girl doing the same.

Nikki, the main character, is 14 years old and an eighth-grader at a "new" private school and she is the "new" girl in town. That is always so hard and many girls will relate to this. Nikki desperately wants an i-phone so that she can be "cool" and accepted by the other girls. She does some hilarious things along the way in trying to be cool. Her mother tries to understand and gives her a diary to help her adjust to her new school. This is definitely now what Nikki thinks is cool but she ends up filling it with her writings and drawings. The story is told in Nikki's voice through daily diary entries complete with wonderful whimsical drawings, sketches, doodles and comic strips all drawn by Nikki. These drawings are illustrated by the author Rachel Renee Russell, she's a very talented lady.

I laughed along with Nikki and felt her pain and awkward moments as well. We all go through those growing up and Ms. Russell honed in on typical challenges that girls of middle school would face such as peer pressure, being popular and accepted, finding your identity and who your "true" friends are and even dealing with your first crush. Nikki got herself into some sticky situations and was able to figure her way out with her wits and talents as well as her friends support. She has to face down the popular girl who humilites her and not be intimidated and that takes a lot of strength for a young girl.

Nikki seems like a typical teenager and although she feels like a dork, in reality she is not. The author did a wonderful job in having Nikki be a relatable character. I think that many young girls will relate to her. As an adult reading this book, it brought back memories of my own teen years. I liked that Nikki has a normal family with typical issues to deal with such as annoying siblings, and being embarressed of your parents and a relationship with her grandma who gives her advice and is someone that she can turn to. In the end, I think that Nikki realizes that her parents have her best interest at heart and Nikki realizes how important family is.

I believe that this book will be a sure winner for middle school girls. The reading level for the book is 9-12 but I wonder if some of the pop culture references may be over a 9 year old girls head. I think that this book willl definitely draw girls interests who will appreciate the humor and storyline. I would definitely recommend this book for 10-11 and up. The style and content do remind me of a girls version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so if your child is a fan of that series this one will definitely be a good one to pick up next.
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Nikki Maxwell, a self-proclaimed dork, is just trying to get through her eighth grade year at her new private school, Westchester Country Day. A voracious writer and budding artist, she deals with all the normal things girls her age face: her parents not understanding her, an annoying sibling, friend troubles, and stuck up girls. But then a school art competition gives Nikki the chance to shine--if she can beat Mackenzie, the most stuck-up and snobbish girl in the school.

Dork Diaries is a hilarious and authentic portrayal of the ups and downs of middle school, finding friends who understand you, and finding yourself. Nikki is a witty, smart, and self-deprecating character that many young teens and preteens will be able to relate to, and her voice is especially compelling, despite her tendency to be a bit dramatic. The many drawings and the simple, straightforward writing style in Dork Diaries is certain to appeal to girls who don't normally read. Rachel Russell has created a fun, clever, and highly entertaining book that is sure to satisfy.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2010
This is a fun spin off of Diary of a Wimpy Kid but watch out. There are mature topics in this book and if your child is a firm believer there may be surprises in this book. I found it too mature for my third grader and some of the vocab. was higher level. She loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
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