May 19, 2011

Dodging the middle school minefields

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Middle school can be a minefield, and Rachel Renée Russell does a super job of capturing the daily dilemmas of one particular middle schooler in Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star.

Nikki Maxwell has only been at her new private school for a few months, but she has made some great friends and one very powerful enemy, Mackenzie Hollister. In her diary, Nikki shares her deepest thoughts and works out her day-to-day challenges. Filled with a roller coaster of emotions and plenty of drawings to keep the story moving, the diary provides a clear picture of talented but unconfident Nikki, who worries that others will find out her deep secrets: She is on full scholarship at the tony school; her father is an exterminator; and she was caught on Mackenzie’s cell phone singing and dancing with her little sister at a pizza joint. When Mackenzie schemes to steal Nikki’s BFFs and ruin her chances to win the school talent show, Nikki pulls herself together. 

Dork Diaries has become something of a Wimpy Kid for girls, offering new ways to deal with the challenges of middle school life. Girls who are struggling with their social lives will empathize and laugh along with Nikki, who may not be a pop star just yet but is winning the hearts of young readers everywhere.

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