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Review: Dork Diaries: Tales of a Not-So-Talented Pop Star

Reluctant and avid readers alike will devour the latest installment of the Dork Diaries.  Filled with angst, humor, and terrific cartoon drawings, this latest installment does not disappoint.

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star
Russell, Rachel Renee’
Ages 8-13
Aladin, 2011, 9781442411906
$12.99, 320 pp.

The Halloween dance is over, and Nikki is on her crush Brandon’s radar.  Mean girl Mackenzie is someone that she can contend with.  And now, the next bit of drama begins. Bugs are invading the school, and Nikki is afraid people will learn the truth – that she’s a scholarship student. Her father arranged the scholarship because he’s the school’s exterminator.  As Nikki meddles so the truth won’t come out, she thinks she’s lost the scholarship and has to pay a huge tuition bill!  Her solution…. to enter the school’s talent contest. One of the prizes is a scholarship to the school. But mean girl Mackenzie doesn’t want Nikki to succeed and tries to block her in every way.

I find it ironic that the title of this series is the Dork Diaries, because Nikki is anything but a dork. I perceive her as smart, self-confident, and bold.  Russell paints a true-to-life middle school dynamic. Do the same situations happen in my school? Not so much. But oh I sure could pick up the different dynamics in our building. Friends hurting each other’s feelings. Bullies.  Crushes.  It’s all there.

While this is more of a hybrid than a comic… the cartoon drawings add a ton of flavor and humor. I love the simple line drawings and how the lines of Nikki’s notebook show through.  I love how the drawings show her holding the dairy everywhere! (Like while playing basketball in gym class!)

There are a ton of laugh-out-loud moments. But the adult in me cracked up a couple of times that are worth shouting out.

Moment #1: Nikki describes her principal as a bit weird. But who could blame him for being weird after hanging out in a middle school for ten years.

Moment #2: Nikki and her friends get to miss study hall so they can shelve books in the library.  Nikki draws how she and her friends shelve. See the overflowing book cart and 3 girls sitting/standing and reading.  (Yup… those are my student shelvers too!)

This series belongs on every library shelf. It’s tempting to compare it to the Wimpy Kid series, but this has its own unique flavor.   Pick up the series at volume 3 or go back to volume 1. It doesn’t matter. You can read it any which way. Just go and enjoy this light read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Aladin (An imprint of Simon & Schuster)

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. omg i love this book … even though im in the 8th grade this book sparks my imagination. niki is my printed best friend she lets me know im not the only won going thru middle school drama.i love who she is.. and diary of a wimpy kid cant even compare booooooooo. -micah k

  2. i love this bok

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