Dork Diaries (Book 1 & 2) - Rachel Renee Russell
I don't know about you, but I've heard very conflicting thoughts about the Dork Diaries series. Primarily, I find adults (teachers, librarians and parents) hate them, and students love them. I thought I'd check it out for myself.... and definitely fit into the teacher category.
I did not enjoy these books.
I thought about only reading book 1, but I'd bought the 'Double Dork Diaries' bind up of the first two books from Dymocks, and so skim read through the 2nd book so I could give an honest review.
My main concern, which is echoed by many other adults who work in education, is the way it presents young women. The main character is the very stereotypical "not-the-cool-girl-but-is-actually-amazing-and-the-cool-boy-likes-her-and-everything-works-out-in-the-end-and-the-'cool'-girl-is-totally-embarrased" thing going on. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about ;)
From the perspective of a younger person, I remember loving Lizzie McGuire as a pre-teen, which definitely follows a similar theme. But The Dork Diaries didn't make me nostalgic, it made me feel a bit slimy and uncomfortable! I don't like the way the characters speak to or about one another and I don't like the emphasis they put on superficial qualities. Are there kids who actually act this way? Absolutely. Are they kids that we want others' emulating? Absolutely not.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars. I know lots of lovely girls who enjoy these books, but we don't keep them in our school library and I wouldn't be recommending it to any young women I know.
Age suggestion: At least 10+. Preferably older, and for students who have the emotional maturity to realise that emulating these characters would not be 'cool'.
Ability range: 8+. These books are by no means complex. A similar text style to Diary of a Wimpy kid, in it's diary form. Content notes: I can't bring myself to go back through and list everything, but the word 'craptastic' was thrown around, there was a large focus on impressing the protagonist's 'crush', and girls humiliating each other. It doesn't even sound that bad now that I write it, but I easily made up my mind within the first chapter or two. I don't like the 'B' word, but this book is full of bitchiness.
Want to make up your own mind? Go for it!