Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (hardcover)
by Rachel Renee Russell
The Dork Diary author, Nikki Maxwell, is a middle school girl living a not-so-fabulous life, including bullies, an annoying little sister, and embarrassing parents. She keeps a diary to document everything in her life. In this first book (of a 12 book series, I think?), Nikki is being bullied by the most popular girl at school, who is rich and beautiful and blatantly mean. Nikki thinks a lot of things in her head, but doesn’t say any of them out loud, much like I think a lot of us with self-control do. I could relate to her wanting to tell people off or say what she was thinking, but instead, keeping her mouth shut. Nikki ends up making friends with two girls who support her and come through for her at the end when the bullying takes a turn for the worst and Nikki doesn’t want to come to school.
What I liked about this book is that is has my kids reading. That is always a plus! They are fun and engaging, entertaining and positive. I bought them at the request of my students, and I got a good deal on them used from Thriftbooks, my go-to for used books. I’m not sure how good a deal they were, but $3.75 for a used $12 book is good enough for me! They won’t stay on my shelf now. My biggest readers? My boys. Maybe they will take the information and it will come in handy when they have crushes on girls next year in seventh grade.
What I didn’t like about this book is I expected it to be more similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the Wimpy Kid books are awesome and clever and I loved them, and the Dork Diaries were just okay. That kind of bummed me out, but I also had unrealistic expectations. This series is clever and entertaining, but not for me, which is totally fine, because kids are reading!
Book 23 of 40
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (paperback)
by Jeff Kinney
AR Level 5.2, 3 points
As I wrote previously, I was cynical when it came to the Wimpy Kid books. I didn’t think I’d enjoy them. However, Rodrick Rules also had me laughing out loud as I read about Greg being pushed around by his older brother Rodrick. Much of it seems like typical older brother-little brother antics (like making Greg clean up Rodrick’s mess after a party), some of it was just mean, like when Rodrick told everyone a secret about Greg. Greg, of course, has it coming, because he is mean to his little brother Manny. Greg continues to be completely clueless and self-centered, which is what makes the book funny.
What I liked about this book was the fact that it gets kids to read. I have such a hard time getting certain students, especially boys, to read books outside of their comfort zone. This series will get kids hooked, kind of like a gateway book. 😉
What I didn’t like about this book (and the series in general) is that there is no plot. It is a book of various events and situations, but there’s no beginning-middle-end or problem-solution. That’s okay, as long as you aren’t forced to summarize the book.
Book 18 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (paperback)
by Jeff Kinney
AR Level 5.2, 3 points
This is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. I have heard about this series for the last 10 years (since it was published), but I officially got to meet Greg and his friends and family. This is written in diary form, so instead of chapters, there are dates with different events that Greg experienced. He gets himself into all kinds of trouble, but fails to see how he is responsible for any of the trouble. He, like most middle school boys, thinks he can do no wrong. However, the reader laughs at his antics and hopefully sees what he’s doing to sink himself.
What I like about this book was, well, let’s say I was definitely reluctant to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It seemed like empty-headed silly boy humor that didn’t further one’s vocabulary or reading skills. I realize it’s written at a 5.2, but I figured it was what I call a “gateway” book to get reluctant readers into reading. If nothing else worked, give them Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Well, most of that is correct. However, it isn’t so empty-headed. It is really witty, and I found myself laughing out loud at several parts.
What I didn’t like was the way there wasn’t a solid problem or solution to the story. It followed a diary pattern, not a conflict-resolution pattern. However, I think that’s what grabs students to read it. It isn’t your traditional book.
Book 15 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)