Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All

Rachel Renee Russell
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2012   ISBN: 978-1442449619

Nikki is thrilled to be ringing in the New Year with her BFFs, Chloe and Zoey. She is sure that it is going to be a wonderful evening, which it is until the girls decide to play Truth or Dare. Afraid of what she might be asked if she chooses Truth, Nikki decides to risk being dared. Zoey dares Nikki to toilet-paper  MacKenzie’s house, which is not only “the BEST dare ever,” but is also such a terrifying dare that just thinking about it makes Nikki break out into a cold sweat.

   At first the three girls agree that they are too chicken to go through with the dare, but then they start thinking about all the nasty, mean, vicious, and ruthless things MacKenzie has done to them in the last few years, and they change their mind. All goes well toilet-papering the trees in front of MacKenzie’s mansion home until MacKenzie comes out with the family dog and the girls get caught. MacKenzie decides that the girls are lying about being the toilet-paperers and that a super cute boy did the deed to get her attention. After all, boys find her irresistible. The girls try to tell MacKenzie the truth, but she insists that they are trying to mess with her love life. She even goes so far as to accuse Nikki of being jealous because Brandon (a boy Nikki is crazy about) is the one who ‘decorated’ her trees.

   At first Nikki is relieved that MacKenzie is so self-centered that she thinks that the prank was the work of a boy, but then MacKenzie reveals how devious she is. The girl tells Nikki that she knew all along that Nikki, Chloe and Zoey did the toilet-papering, and she promises to tell the principal about this act of vandalism, or write about it in her school newspaper gossip column.  However, if Nikki gets MacKenzie and her friends invitations to Brandon’s birthday party, the vandalism will remain their little secret. MacKenzie even suggests that she may accuse Brandon if Nikki doesn’t cooperate. Desperate to save Brandon, herself, and her friends, Nikki gets a job on the school newspaper so that she can keep an eye on MacKenzie. The job she ends up getting - being the newspaper agony aunt - is not one she would have chosen for herself, but it ends up being one that she is good at. Soon Nikki is getting dozens of letters from students who need advice, which is rather ironic because Nikki has no idea how to solve her own problems.

   In this sixth book in the Dork Diaries series, Nikki once again gets herself into a difficult situation, one which could have truly dire consequences. Nikki’s arch enemy is responsible for Nikki’s woes and the poor girl feels helpless. Readers who have enjoyed the earlier Dork Diaries titles are going to relish seeing how Nikki extracts herself from this new misadventure. Nikki’s tweenage voice is wonderfully authentic, and it is hard not to laugh at her comments and observations. One also cannot help feeling sympathetic as she struggles to get out, and stay out, of trouble.