Monday, May 30, 2011

REVIEW: Dork Diaries (Book One)

Russell, R.R.  (2009).  Dork Diaries:  Tales from a not-so-fabulous life.  New York:  Aladdin.

282 pages.

Appetizer:  Nikki has just started attending Westchester Country Day on scholarship and she wants nothing more than to fit in with the popular mean girl MacKenzie and her friends.  But how?  Would an iPhone or winning an art prize get her invited to MacKenzie's birthday party?  Nikki struggles through middle school, hoping to find the key to popularity and happiness.

As I was reading Dork Diaries, it was hard not to compare it to The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  Both are focused on the experiences of middle school, one from a boy's perspective (DoaWK) and one from a girl's (DD), both use illustrations (although DoaWK's are more central to the story), both feature superficially-minded selfish characters, but while I can't help but occasionally chuckle at the content of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dork Diaries left me silent, not very amused, and from time to time wondering wtf.  One of my "WTF?" moments was this passage:

"The most important lesson I learned last year was that having a CRUDDY phone--or NONE at all--can totally RUIN your social life.  While hordes of celebrity party girls regularly FORGET to wear undies, not a single one would be caught dead without her cell phone.  Which was why I was nagging my mom about buying me an iPhone" (p. 4).
WTF?  What am I supposed to think about that?   I get that this is meant in jest...but I just don't find it funny.  There were a few other attempted jokes like that throughout the book.

I did appreciate the tension over Nikki's desire to belong and to find true friends.  I also appreciated Nikki's embarrassment by her father's van.  That also felt very real to the age.

Overall, I wasn't that impressed with Dork Diaries.  Nikki's conflicts with MacKenzie and her attraction to Brandon felt pretty typical of middle grade/tween/young-young adult romance books.  The story did end on a positive note...which is also typical of this type of book.

Since the illustrations didn't add to much to the story over all, I was just left feeling like Louise Rennison's Angus Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging was a much more entertaining diary series (although for a potentially slightly older age group).

Dinner Conversation:

"Sometimes I wonder if my mom is BRAIN DEAD.  Then there are days when I know she is.
Like today.
The drama started this morning when I casually asked if she would buy me one of those cool new iPhones that do almost everything.  I considered it a necessity of life, second only to maybe oxygen.
What better way to clinch a spot in the CCP (Cute, Cool & Popular) group at my new private school, Westchester Country Day, than by dazzling them with a wicked new cell" (p. 1).

"Absolutely no one writes their most intimate feelings and deep, dark secrets in a diary anymore!  WHY?!
Because just one or two people knowing all your BIZ could completely ruin your reputation.
You're supposed to post this kind of juicy stuff online in you BLOG so MILLIONS can read it!!!
Only a TOTAL DORK would be caught WRITING in a DIARY!!" (pp. 7-8).

"This morning the halls were plastered with colorful posters for Random Acts of Avant-Garde Art, our annual school art show.
I'm SUPERexcited because the first prize for each class is $500, cash!  SWEET!
That would be enough for me to buy a cell phone, a new outfit from the mall, AND art supplies.
But most important, winning that award could transform me from a "socially challenged ART DORK" to a "socially charmed ART DIVA" practically overnight!" (p. 46).

"When the office assistant asked if I was there to pick up an entry form for the avant-garde art show, I just froze and started clucking like a hen:
Buk, buk, buk-ka-a-ah!
Then, MacKenzie laughed, like ME entering the competition was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.
That's when I spotted the yellow sign-up sheet for library shelving assistants, also known as LSAs.  Every day during study hall, a few kids get excused to go to the school library to shelve books.  An LSA's life is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
So, instead of trying to achieve my dream of winning a major art competition, I very STUPIDLY signed up to shelve DUSTY and BORING LIBRARY BOOKS!" (p. 48-49).

Tasty Rating:  !!

1 comment:

  1. can you put a picture of her when she got a good grade from the first book (page 88)



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