Dork Diaries: Dear Dork by Rachel Renee Russell

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Dork Diaries: Dear Dork by Rachel Renee Russell

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Yet another entrant to this series, which shows no real sign of ending soon – but neither does it show any of the flaws you might expect it to have started to have by now.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: October 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9780857079367

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You can see how easy it would be for a series of children's books to settle into a stale formula, repeating the same idea time over time until the last drop of originality had dried in the sun and the coordinated covers were bleached into off-white. The characters got boring, their interactions meaningless, and the author covered old ground for the hell of it for one last buck. Now look at this series, and in particular this fifth full, proper title in it, and you'll see just how that hasn't happened.

If anything there is more freshness and verve to the plot than last time round, as yet another aspect of the particularly American school life is looked at through the eyes of the anxious, worrisome yet huge-hearted dork, Nikki Maxwell. This time it's the school newspaper, and she's only working on that because of a quite entertainingly convoluted mix of problems – there's a party invite, a blackmail, a potential problem with her continuing with her BFFs at school, some ridiculous fantasies, and it all started – like some of the readers, I guess - with a simple game of truth or consequences. It's a series of misadventures well worth looking out for – except for too much of the plot being on the back cover blurb, of course.

Yet again this is a book that will not please all the adults passing by it. Dickens would have trouble with its text-speak, OMGs and smileys, but despite a couple of pages near the end where it really does stop being written in legitimate sentences, for some reason, I think these books are to be welcomed in bringing a sense of belonging and possession to the reluctant reader. Nikki may be far removed from the British girl of her age-group, but all the same there is a global recognition in her troubles with her younger sister, her embarrassing parents, and her constant crushing on Brandon the hunk.

With each of these volumes now covering a mere month of her diaries (and at times you have to take it with a pinch of salt as some entries get scribbled down and illustrated over several days, and some seem to be done live in the second), it would appear we're here for the rest of the school year. All I can say that this, green volume, is among the better ones of the series – there is nothing like the bravura set-piece comedy section this stable has provided in the past, but as I say a clever build-up, and perhaps a more consistent level of humour throughout. I also picked on things being left dangling in the past – this episode wraps all its ends up nicely, yet leaves us nowhere nearer the concluding snog. Well, we are only in January here – with this standard of writing the fan will lap everything up until May or whenever.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For a book for this audience (or perhaps slightly younger) with a genre edge, we enjoyed Monstrous Maud:Big Fright by A B Saddlewick.

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Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell in Chronological Order


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