Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries, #1)by Published 02 Jun 2009
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It’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls in this hilarious novel!
Meet Nikki Maxwell! She's starting eighth grade at a new school—and her very first diary packed with hilarious stories and art in Book One of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!
New school. New mean girl. New crush. New diary so I can spill about all of it…
I put a lot of really personal stuff in this diary along with my sketches and doodles.
But, mostly it’s about how TRAUMATIC it was transferring to my new private middle school, Westchester Country Day.
And, how a lot of the CCP (Cool, Cute & Popular) kids were really SNOBBY and made my life TOTALLY miserable. People like, oh, I don’t know, maybe…
And, it just so happened that I got stuck with a locker right next to hers. I could NOT believe I had such CRAPPY luck. I knew right then and there it was going to be a VERY, VERY long school year :-( !
Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries, #1) Reviews
DNF AT 11%
If this is how the youth of America think and act, we are doomed.
I'm a 4th grade teacher and have been longing for a book for the girls in my classroom that was comparable to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." While "Wimpy Kid" is hilarious, the girls in the book are very minor, undeveloped characters at best. After discovering "Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life," I finally got my wish for His and Her books. I think this book will also be great for my reluctant readers.
Nikki Maxwell is just starting the year at a snobby, private middle school. Not only does she not fit in with the fashion forward girls there, she lives in dread of someone finding out that she is attending the school on a scholarship. Her so-called, "pity" scholarship was arranged by her father as part of his contract as the school's new bug exterminator. And, if all of that wasn't bad enough, her father's work van has a huge 5 foot long roach bolted to the top of it.
Nikki gets assigned a locker right next to MacKenzie, the most popular girl in the school, who labels her a "Dork." So, Nikki hatches a plan that will launch her from dork to diva. All she has to do is win the annual school art show which should be easy enough seeing as she is a very talented artist and has spent the past 5 summers at art camp. However, her dreams are quickly dashed when MacKenzie signs up to compete in the art show and is rumored to be the frontrunner in the competition. At the last minute, Nikki loses her nerve and instead of signing up for the art show she signs up to becomes a library shevling assistant. The story takes off from there.
Nikki shares her fears, dreams, wishes, and frustrations with readers through daily entries in her diary and her funny drawings. The excellent artwork is a variety of manga inspired comic strips, doodles and drawings of the events she is writing about. I would say the artwork is probably more similar in style to "The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian," than the simple comic strip panels in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." My favorite artwork from the book? When an English lit homework assignment requires Nikki to provide a physical description of Shakespeare's character "Puck" from "A Midsummer's Night Dream," her imagination runs wild and she turns in sketches of Puck as Justin Timberlake, Corbin Bleu and Nick Jonas with huge, elf-like ears. Priceless! The girls in my classroom always try to add their favorite pop star crushes to their homework assignments.
Nikki is an imperfect, but endearing character. Her bratty little sister, Brianna, upstages her a few times and is another great character. The book was so funny that I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. I can't wait to share this book with my class. There were also a lot of references to teen pop culture that girls will enjoy.
If you don't have an appreciation for wry humor based on the angst of middle school, then you probably won't like this book (or "Wimpy Kid" for that matter). However, if you want a quick, witty, very funny Tween girl read, then THIS is the perfect book!
This is obviously a quick cash-in on the Wimpy Kid craze, and it shows. Oh, it SHOWS. Though derivative, I honestly wouldn't have minded a Wimpy Kid from the female perspective, but then I remembered - we already have that in the Amelia series by Marissa Moss, which is much better written and illustrated, and not to mention heartfelt.
The Dork Diaries is painfully vapid and shallow, and our protagonist Nikki is not particularly likable. I'm really not a fan of how she blames popular Mean Girl MacKenzie for a lot of her problems - especially her fear to register for avant-garde art contest - and I'm just tired of the Mean Girl trope anyway. Nikki's new friends Chloe and Zoey seem more interesting to me, but Nikki is oddly dismissive of some of their interests and is a worse friend to them than they are to her. Nikki's sister Brianna has a lot of personality, too - it's really Nikki herself that seems to fall the flattest, and my guess is that she's probably an empty shell mostly to appeal to the largest swath of the tween population as possible.
They're no doubt popular, and Nikki and her friends have streaks of creativity, but it's still junk literature. The only positive thing I can say is that Nikki recognizes she doesn't really want to be part of the CCP (cool, cute, & popular) clique after all, so at least MOST of the messages being sent to readers are positive. There's an awful lot of materialism to contend with, though, and a colleague's description of these books as whining about "First World Problems" was spot-on.
You will love Nikki Maxwell! Cute, cool & captivating!
The heroine of this YA story is eighth-grader Nikki Maxwell, a cute, cool and captivating girl you will fall in love with. Although the word cute is not a cool vocabulary choice for today's kids, I use it here because I love that word; it means much more than cool. To me it encompasses looks, personality and sincerity, while cool is...well "cool"...it can be a pose with some kids. So our NIkki is not only cool to her friends, she's also cute to us parents: the kind of girl every decent kid wants for a friend, every parent wants for a daughter. And I predict she will captivate everyone who reads this book, young and old alike.
But Nikki thinks of herself as a dork because rich, snooty MacKenzie Hollister and her wannabe followers go out of their way to make her appear that way. After one too many "klutzy" accidents––caused by the despicable MacKenzie, of course––Nikki starts writing the "Dork Diaries."
And what fun diaries they are! This honest, precocious girl writes EVERYTHING in those pages, illustrating her tales with humorous drawings. These drawings by the author enhance this book, making it an unforgettable reading pleasure.
I admire the way Nikki handles all the set-backs in her life; she never loses her temper, attacking MacKenzie as many girls would. Instead she remains calm and works things out in her own way. That girl has more self-confidence than she knows.
While Nikki doesn't follow the dictates of the "Fashionista Police," she dresses cute and flattering. Enough so to attract the attention of Brandon, a school photographer that MacKenzie has set her cap for.
So what does MacKenzie do when Brandon repeatedly helps Nikki? And what do tattoos have to do with Nikki suddenly becoming so popular that even MacKenzie pretends to be her friend? Does Nikki fall for it? Do her best friends, Zoey and Chloe desert her for MacKenzie? And what does Nikki do when MacKenzie finally learns that her father is the local bug exterminator, driving around with a huge roach atop his truck? How embarrassing is that to our heroine?
And does she ever get the coveted iPhone that she thinks she needs to be cool?
The final showdown between Nikki and MacKenzie is a big school project. Nikki has much more talent (skills, as they call it), but will MacKenzie win through trickery? But to learn more about our Nikki, you will have to read for yourself, and follow along with the illustrations.
Even though author Rachel Renee Russell's writing flows easily, I had a hard time reading this book––through no fault of hers. Each time I put it down, my granddaughter grabbed it and when I wanted to read a chapter, I had to search for it. I told that girl I would pass it on to her. Can't she wait? (But she's a lot like NIkki, so I can see the appeal.)
A side note about this author: As I was reading this story, it was obvious the writer knew and understood the teens' mind, so I felt as though I were actually reading a diary written by a teen. I was surprised to learn that Russell is an attorney who "prefers writing children's books to legal briefs." After reading "Dork Diaries" I can see why. I look forward to many more books by her.
This review is from an ARC sent to me by the author.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, May, 2009
Author of "The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley"
COMING IN MAY: "DREAM REACHERS," a compilation of inspiring celebrity interviews including Clint Eastwood, Jane Russell, Ted Kennedy, Shawn Richardz, Dozie, Darcy Donavan, Jenny McShane, Kiara Hunter, Jennifer Wilkinson, Barbara Evans, Jason Seitz... and more. INSPIRING! INTERESTING!
Dork Diaries is a great book. I recommend it to all girls who like excitement and longer books. Once you have read the first book you will want to read all the others