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Review: Dork Diaries 3 1/2, 4, & 5

The Dork Diaries has been steadily circulating in my middle school library for some time now, but for the last 5 months, this series has been the most requested and on the top 10 list of items circulated since September. The series reads like Diary of a Wimpy Kid but actually skews to a younger audience—the reading level isn’t very difficult—while the topics talk right to the heart of any middle school girl. There is a bratty younger sister, mean girls, crushes, embarrassing parents, and of course tons of homework!

Dork Diaries 3 1/2:  How to Dork Your Diary

By Russell, Rachel Renee’
Ages 9-13
Aladdin, October 2011, 978-1-4424-2234-6
$12.99, unpaged
The Dork Diaries 3½ is actually a how-to book for young girls interested in keeping their own diaries, but the instructions are cleverly told to the audience as Nikki narrates her latest adventure: Her own diary is missing. As her saga unfolds, Nikki hands out lots of interesting tips on keeping a diary. Like Never Ever Leave Your Diary Where a Nosy Creep Can Sneak a Peek! Or discover your diary identity (a blog, journal, sketch book etc.). As each tip is given, space is given to readers to try their own hand at it, and at the end there are many blank pages for readers to fill on their own.

Note to self:  Not the best addition to a library shelf….This title is best suited for a home collection. But the story Nikki spins is mentioned in passing in the next volume, so readers will be curious. Perhaps adding this volume with a label not to write or draw in it is a viable option.

Dork Diaries 4: Tales from a No-So-Graceful Ice Princess
By Russell, Rachel Renee’
Ages 9-13
Aladdin, June 2012, 978-1-4424-1192-0
$13.99, 368 p.
Nikki continues her saga in volume 4. Her class’s latest PE unit is ice skating. The students have a choice: Skate in the charity ice show (and find a charity to sponsor) or take the skating basics. Nikki and her BFFs choose to skate in the charity ice show. Nikki even finds the perfect charity to sponsor, an animal shelter which is in danger of closing. If it closes, her crush Brandon will probably have to move. But there are a few problems: Nikki can’t skate, and McKenzie, her mean-girl nemesis, wants to outdo and outshine Nikki. Will she succeed at her ice skating debut and keep Brandon in town, or will McKenzie get her way?

Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All
By Russell, Rachel Renee’
Ages 9-13
Aladdin, October 2012, 978-1-4424-4961-9
$13.99, 321 p.
Here Nikki and her friends start out the New Year by TPing mean girl Mackenzie’s house. Afraid Mackenzie will rat them out and get them thrown out of school, Nikki joins the school paper to keep one step ahead of McKenzie and becomes the popular advice columnist Miss Know-it-All.

All novels are told in pictures and words, incorporating some of the conventions of a comic, but this is squarely a hybrid novel, capitalizing on the popularity of the pictures and words format. The books are all filled with humor, so it’s easy to appreciate their appeal. Moreover, the themes of the books will resonate with middle grade readers:  Friendship, fitting in, family life. They are easy to read and speak to the girls’ lives. It’s no wonder these light-hearted titles have not stayed on my shelves all year.

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.

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