Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell

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Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Book ten in this series shows some changes, but not in the quality of the writing and primary school-aged fun.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: October 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781471144578

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Things have changed drastically in the world of Nikki Maxwell. Her arch nemesis has suddenly upped sticks and moved school – well, the posher place will only suit her well. Nikki now has a sort of empty feeling, though – nobody is there to make her feel pestered, let down, het up and stressed. Although something is about to do just that and more – the discovery, outside the sanctuary her crush volunteers at, of an abandoned mother dog with her seven puppies. Looking after them until the place even has space for the new arrivals is going to fill her world for the next few days – and the adventure is going to be just as readable as all the other books in this series.

The changes that I picked up on don't just limit themselves to Mackenzie disappearing – especially as she still has the power to force her influence on things. For one I found Chloe and Zoey the BFFs differentiated for the first time. For another I found more of an emphasis on barfing and less universally-appropriate elements. For another I found the telling, with too many mentions of Brandon the crush's bangs, a little cloying and repetitive.

But too much stays the same – which is a credit for the book, as the series has had little to cause complaint about on the whole. This is still stretching the boundaries of the format to ridiculous ends – the diary here is detailing less than five days of Nikki's life in such intricacy we can hardly believe she had the time to write it (it's no surprise when the biology project gets remembered late and finished around midnight). The main characters are still here and present and correct, and the situation still very engaging for the reader while Nikki struggles with the pratfalls of a dorkish yet realistic life. I had thought that as an adult reader I could easily skip a hundred pages of canine capers and see the end revealed, but no – I willingly kept with it, through all the ins and outs of slapstick, mild familial peril and more – so imagine what the intended audience will do. (I was also in favour of the use of the word 'rambunctious'.)

All told it's been a series to love if you're that way inclined, and certainly to recommend if you're like me. But is ten books too many? I don't know – and the author disagrees, as there's a strong set-up for an interesting eleventh at the end. There's also a new, second series to be launched in the spring of 2016, based on a chap we get introduced to actually quite subtly on these pages. It remains to be seen how Ms Russell fares with a male audience (which I assume she will be aiming at, her new hero being male). Based on her errant readability, quick, easy-to-absorb cartoonish illustrations and generously heart-warming narratives, I can only assume the future books will be a hit. This, after all, can only be judged as being yet another one.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The Tapper Twins Tear up New York by Geoff Rodkey is more gender neutral, and great fun.

Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell in Chronological Order

Buy Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Puppy Love (Dork Diaries) by Rachel Renee Russell at Amazon.com.


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