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Dork Diaries: Birthday Drama - 16th October
August 13, 2018

HOW TO STAY COOL WHEN IT’S HOT!

Today started out normal. Nothing much planned. Zoey’s on vacation with her family and Chloe was babysitting. I figured I’d binge watch My Very Rich And Trashy Life, eat junk food and maybe get up the nerve to text Brandon.

Mom took Brianna to the community pool, but the last few days have been HOT so I definitely didn’t want to do anything outside. Air conditioner, baby!! Plus I was going to have the house to myself, which NEVER happens.

I had watched a couple of episodes and was feeling pretty good about my life choices. I took a break to make a milkshake—another choice I felt very good about.

I was pulling out the chocolate ice cream when the comforting whir of the air conditioner stopped running. I figured it would start up again, so I kept making my milkshake. I scooped the ice cream into the blender, then pulled out the milk and the chocolate syrup. Poured everything in and turned the blender on…

…and nothing happened! I double-checked that it was plugged in. Yep, it was.

I opened the fridge to put the milk away…and the little light inside the fridge was off!!

That’s when I realized…we had lost power!

I looked into the blender at my unblended milkshake. That wasn’t the end of the world. Who needed milk? What I really wanted was the ice cream anyway. But my Very Rich And Trashy Life binge was over. 🙁

Oh well. I had my diary, and I could still text Brandon.

It was FINE. For…about a half hour. And then? I was MELTING!!!
Who can write OR text inside an OVEN?!!

My mom texted to ask if we’d lost power—I guess it was out all over—and to tell me not to open the fridge or freezer, because it would let the cold air out and spoil the food. Which reminded me that I had left the ice cream container out on the counter. I ran to check on it, and it was basically ice cream soup. But COLD ice cream soup.

Look, I’m not saying I poured melted chocolate ice cream all over my face and neck. But…I’m not saying I DIDN’T. It was like an ice-cold face mask! But, more sticky.

Whew…the ice cream did the trick and I feel SO MUCH BETTER! THANK GOODNESS!

What do you do to stay cool in the heat? (I DO NOT recommend an ice cream facial!)
August 11, 2018

WHAT MAKES BOYS LIKE GIRLS?

Hi Brandon. What do boys want in girls? I have a crush who is just like you. Since all guys probably think alike, maybe you can tell me if boys want looks, personality, or what? I want to impress him even though we’re good friends. When school starts again, I want to be ready. I know this an awkward topic, but please help!

Crazy Crush Catastrophe

Hey Crazy Crush Catastrophe,

Look, I think the first thing to get straight is that we don’t have the exact same brain. Like, even if this guy is a photographer who lives with his grandparents and volunteers in an animal shelter, we’d STILL be very different people. So I can’t tell you what one specific guy is looking for.

And, I also can’t tell you what guys in general are looking for, because we’re all specific individuals.

But I understand the question. I mean, I’ve asked it in reverse myself. I’d LOVE a handbook that explains girls to me. But if that were possible, somebody would have already written it! They’d be a zillionaire, too, because EVERYONE wishes they had a crush handbook at some point!

The thing is, even if you had really clear instructions on exactly how guys want girls to look, act and be, you wouldn’t want to twist yourself into whatever that is, would you? Because then you wouldn’t be YOU! You’d be acting like someone else, which would be exhausting, and people would be able to tell that it’s phony.

One thing that I think EVERYONE finds attractive—guys and girls—is confidence. There are people who might not be the most obvious definition of attractive, and they might not be the funniest, the smartest or the most athletic, but they’re so comfortable with who they are that everyone loves them.

So look, you’re already good friends with this guy, which makes you ahead of the game. He already likes who you are. So, don’t go twisting yourself into something else, hoping to impress him. Keep being you, focus on the things you have in common, and keep building that friendship.

If the guy really likes you, you want it to be because of how much he likes who you really are, and not because of someone you were pretending to be, which gets old fast. Does that make sense?

Hey readers, how do you handle it when you’ve got a crush on a good friend? Do you ever pretend to be something you’re not? Tell us in the comments!
August 10, 2018

WHAT IF I’M NOT IN THE SAME CLASS WITH MY BFFS?!!

Hey Nikki! Summer is almost ending and I’m so scared about school starting!!
 WHY!? Because I really want my two BFFs to be in my class!!! We’ve been together since forever!! What do I do? I need help!

BFF Separation Anxiety

Hi BFF Separation Anxiety,

Oohhh, this is stressful! I especially remember the stress of this in elementary school. Because in most elementary schools, you spend a lot of your time with one class. It gets easier in middle school when you start switching classes. You might not have English and Algebra with your friend, but maybe you’ll have PE and History.

However, it sounds like you’re talking about one class, so I’m going to assume you’re in elementary school.

First of all, you don’t DO anything except try to stop stressing. Because stressing about it isn’t going to change whether you end up in the same class or not. It’s just going to make you a mess.

The only thing you can do is prepare yourself for if you might not be in the same class. It’s a possibility. But, it’s not the end of the world. I promise. I mean, think about it: when you’re in class, you’re not exactly having social time with your friends, right? That happens at lunch, during recess and on the bus. Plus, you can still spend that time with your friends, no matter which class you’re in.

So remember that while you’re waiting to find out which classes you’re in. If it turns out you’re not in the same class, make plans to meet for lunch and recess. Maybe arrange extra time outside of school to hang out. But I promise you’ll still get to spend plenty of time together.

One thing to keep in mind is that you and one friend might end up together while the third will be in a different class. A relief for the two of you who are together, but the one who’s on her own will probably feel SUPER left out. So in that case, put some extra effort into making her feel included!

Now, if you’re the one on your own, remember that your friends will still love you and you’ll still get to spend lots of time with them. But also? You’ll probably make some new friends, too! Not to replace your BFFs at ALL, but just to add to your circle. The more the merrier! 🙂

I’m sure you’ll be okay. So, try to enjoy the last weeks of summer and please don’t worry about it!

How do you handle it when you’re in a different class from your BFFs? Tell us in the comments!
August 8, 2018

National Book Festival Presentation and signing!

Meet Rachel Renée Russell and her daughter Nikki!!

Saturday, September 1st
Library of Congress National Book Festival
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Presentation at the Children’s Green Stage
12:25 pm – 12:50 pm
Book Signing Following the Presentation
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
The event is FREE and open to the public

For more details visit the Library of Congress website here !

August 4, 2018

ANY TIPS FOR PET OWNERS?

Dear Brandon,

I really need your help! I’d like to get a new pet. I’m thinking about a puppy, kitten, or maybe a hamster. I’m super excited! But, I have NO idea how to care for a pet. Please help!

Positively Passionate About Pets

Hey Positively Passionate About Pets,

First of all, congratulations! Getting a pet is always really exciting! 

I’m not an expert in pet care, but I have gotten several letters lately asking about different kinds of pet care, so I figured I’d do a general post on how to be a good pet owner. Hopefully some of these tips will help you with the pet you choose.

  1. SAFE LIVING SPACE:
    If your pet lives in a cage, follow guidelines for the amount of space they need, and the temperature their living area should be kept at. For an animal like dogs or cats who live more freely in the house, be sure they don’t have access to things that are harmful for them, like certain houseplants or chocolate, and make sure your yard isn’t treated with harmful chemicals.
  2. GOOD FOOD:
    Follow your vet’s guidelines for how much and how often your pet should be eating. It’s tempting to share human food with pets, but know that some human foods are actually dangerous for certain animals. For example, avocado is extremely toxic for birds, grapes and raisins can cause kidney problems in dogs, and milk can actually cause upset tummies in cats!
  3. KEEP THEM CLEAN:
    Remember that board book from when you were little – Everybody Poops? Well, no lie. Animals poop. All of them. It’s not something we think about when we’re choosing a fluffy bundle of love, but ALL animals need to be picked up after, whether that means washing a fish bowl, cleaning out a litter box, or picking up dog poop in the back yard. Imagine if your toilet didn’t flush and you had to just keep living in a room with your poop. GROSS, RIGHT?! So don’t do that to your animals.
    Along with picking up their poop, help your animals keep themselves clean, if they’re an animal that needs help with that. Like dogs need to be given baths, but chinchillas need to be provided with a place to give themselves dust baths. Other animals, like fish or birds, don’t need you to bathe them.
  4. EXERCISE/ PLAY/ COMPANIONSHIP:
    Some pet care can feel like a chore, but this is the fun part! You probably got a pet for the fun and friendship, so make sure you’re both getting what you need out of the relationship! This doesn’t mean you have to be playing with your pet all the time. In fact, your pet needs time to chill out, too. But especially with a social pack animal like a dog, be sure you’re providing the interaction they need. And also, know if you have the sort of animal who likes to be alone, or if they need a friend. For example, betta fish are highly territorial and need to be alone in their own private fish bowl. But guinea pigs are meant to live in groups and can become extremely anxious if they don’t have another guinea pig buddy to share a cage with.
  5. USE THE INTERNET:
    The internet is FULL of information on how to care for different kinds of pets. You can’t trust everything you read on the internet, and always trust your vet’s advice above the internet, but you can learn a lot on reputable sites. For example, after a brief search on dwarf hamsters, I learned that dwarf hamsters need to run a LOT, so it’s important that there’s a wheel in your hamster’s cage. Also, when choosing the bedding that goes in the bottom of the cage, cedar or pine shavings can give your hamster asthma! So do a little research and soon you’ll be an expert yourself!
  6. MEDICAL CARE:
    This is more your parents’ responsibility, but your pet needs regular check-ups with a vet. You can help by going along and keeping your pet calm and distracted if they get anxious.
What kinds of pets do you have? What are your best tips for being a good pet owner? Do any of you have a cat, dog, hamster or other pet? Share in the comments!
August 2, 2018

MY MOM’S A SNOOP AND SO AM I!

Dear Nikki,

I write in a diary like you and lately my mom has been asking me questions that relate to my entries. I was snooping around when I found my diary in my mom’s closet. I got angry but didn’t tell her. What do I do?!

The Sneaky Snooper

Hi Sneaky Snooper,

Oh yikes! This is tricky! I’ve gotten letters from readers whose parents snooped in their diaries before. But this is complicated, since the only reason you know she snooped is because YOU were snooping!!!

It sounds like something that would happen to me!!! 🙂

I’m thinking about WHY you’re both feeling the need to snoop. I think when parents snoop into kids’ lives (not just diaries, but sometimes they’ll go through their rooms, or social media accounts), it can be because they’re worried. Maybe they’ve noticed their kid seems different lately – sad, angry or preoccupied – and they worry about the reason for the personality change and go looking for answers.

But, they must go looking for answers since they don’t think they’d get answers by just asking. Hey, it would be a LOT easier to just ask, right?! But I know that when my parents ask me how I’m doing, I usually just say, “Fine” because I don’t want to spill my guts to them on every little thing. I DEFINITELY don’t want their advice on every little thing, and they will FOR SURE give it if I tell them my problems.

So, there you have it. Parents worry kids aren’t telling them stuff, which makes them ask, which makes the kids shut down, which makes the parents go snooping, which makes the kids shut down even more. Because CAN A KID GET A LITTLE PRIVACY UP IN HERE?!?!?

I’m curious why YOU were snooping. It sounds like it was probably because of the questions your mom had been asking, and I’m guessing you couldn’t find your diary, so maybe you were specifically looking for that. If so: understandable.

But, if you were snooping for no good reason, that’s definitely something you need to think about before you go getting all mad at your mom for doing the same thing. I mean, let’s be fair.

No matter what the reasons were, it sounds like you and your mom need to do a little more talking to each other. Maybe then, neither of you will feel such a need to snoop! But I guess it kind of depends what kind of relationship you have. With some moms, you could be like, “Okay, Mom. Real talk. I was suspicious that you might have been reading my diary, so I went looking for it and I found it in your closet. Now I know I shouldn’t have snooped, but neither should you. Privacy is important to me and I need you to respect that. Can we talk about this?”

But I do know there are some moms who would only hear that you snooped in their closet and then you’d just get punished and you wouldn’t get to the heart of the problem.

In that case, I’d probably leave the diary where you found it (since she’ll know you snooped if she realizes it’s missing from her closet), and ask your mom if she’s seen it, because you can’t find it and it’s really important to you. You could even tell her you’re worried someone might read it! At this point, she might admit to having it, and it could open up a conversation. But even if she doesn’t, you’ll get it back.

In the future, try to be a little more open with your mom about what’s going on with your life, so she doesn’t feel like she has to go all “secret agent” on you. And find a better hiding spot for your diary!

Do your parents snoop on you? Are you a bit of a snoop yourself? Has it gotten you in trouble? What does privacy mean to you? Tell us in the comments!
August 1, 2018

August Calendar – Summer Camp

Right click the download button to save the calendar of your choice on your computer.

1 vertical page – 8½ x 11in
Download
July 31, 2018

WARNING—SUPER CONTAGIOUS GERMS!!!

I’m pretty sure I have the plague.

Like from history class? Spread by rats, wiping out entire medieval villages, the Black Death, etc, etc? I don’t remember all the details, but I remember enough to be pretty sure I have it.

Mine was PROBABLY not spread by rats. Between my dog Daisy and Mrs. Wallabanger’s dog Creampuff, I’m pretty sure there aren’t any rodents within at least a mile of our house.

But it’s been like seven-hundred years since the original Black Death. Probably by now it has evolved. Maybe it’s spread by housecats. Or through cell phones somehow.

Or MAYBE it’s spread entirely by six-year-olds who go to school, ballet class and scout meetings, and then hold hands with other six-year-olds, and then come home and spread the germs to the people they are SUPPOSED TO LOVE!!!

I mean, come ON!!! I was just being a good sister AND daughter when I volunteered to run in and pick Brianna up from her ballet class.

(OKAY, maybe I didn’t exactly volunteer as much as Mom made me. But still, I didn’t stage a revolution or anything. I let her stay in the car and I went inside.)

Everything looked normal. Little girls in tights, hair falling out of buns, moms on their phones, barely noticing which kid ran over and grabbed their hand. I swear, some of them could get home and only realize then that they’d brought home the wrong ballerina!

Meanwhile, Brianna was doing some sort of crab walk across the dance floor. Sometimes you just gotta let Brianna be Brianna.

So I waited, and when she got up, I waved.

“Nikki’s here!” she announced to the room full of little dancers and impatient moms, like I was some kind of celebrity. That actually warmed my heart for a second.

But JUST a second. Because here’s what happened NEXT:

Brianna ran over to the corner to grab her bag. Then, the little girl next to her sneezed RIGHT in her face. Instead of backing away like a NORMAL person, Brianna hugged her goodbye. I was standing there in utter disbelief because of what she had just done.

I mean, WHO hugs someone right after they’ve SNEEZED AND SHOWERED YOU WITH INFECTIOUS GERMS??!!!

And since I was just standing there, I didn’t stop Brianna before she grabbed my hand with her now plague-covered one.

“What’s wrong?” Brianna asked, since I wasn’t moving. And THEN, she sneezed in MY face!!!

I mean, this is cruel and unusual punishment! I volunteered to go in and get Brianna! Mom didn’t want to be seen by the other pick-up moms in her dirty yoga pants since she had been working in the yard all morning.

And here is the thing that is TOTALLY not fair – Brianna was sick by that night, but only for about TWO SECONDS. Just long enough to get the rest of us sick. Mom and Dad sniffled for a day or two. But I have been on my deathbed for almost a WEEK!!!

Not that I want Brianna to be sick. I’m not a monster. (But she is a lot quieter when she’s sick…)

Here are my symptoms:

I am FREEZING. Also BURNING UP.

My nose is somehow both congested and running like a faucet. (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE???)

My head pounds if there’s too much noise. Also if it’s too quiet. Also if it’s too bright. Or too dark.

I can’t decide if I’m starving or nauseous, but one thing I know for sure: things are NOT RIGHT in the digestion department.

Everything hurts. Seriously everything. Like, my pinkie toenail hurts. My earlobes hurt. The little hairs that line the inside of my nose hurt.

I know all I’m doing is complaining and there are people with way worse problems and that I’ll get better eventually (PROBABLY, except if it really is the Black Death. And if so, I guess you had it coming if you’re reading my diary and I somehow infected you through the pages because this germ is incredibly advanced). But right now, I truly feel like I am DYING.

And I am SO BORED!

If this is the last entry I ever write in my diary, it has served me well. It has helped me survive the rocky years of middle school. It has given me strength to rise above Mackenzie Hollister’s antics. Fare thee well, diary!

Also, I blame Brianna!! 🙁

I give out so much advice as Miss-Know-It-All, but now I need advice!!! How does anyone pass the time when they’re sick and stuck in bed? If the plague doesn’t kill me, the boredom will! (I do NOT need medical advice—I have Dr. Google for that. Not to mention Dr. Mom, who brought me the most REPULSIVE smoothie this morning—it was army green and full of unidentifiable stringy thingies!)

Please share your boredom busters in the comments so that I and other readers will know what to do the next time we’re stuck at home sick!
July 27, 2018

I DON’T WANNA GROW UP!!!

Hey Nikki! I have a problem, and it’s that I’m scared to grow up. I just want to stay a kid forever! I feel like I just want to run away and hide, but I know that won’t help me stop getting older. I’m petrified of thinking about going into the world by myself one day and I just want to stay at home forever. Please help me!

Forever Young

Hi Forever Young,

Okay, I totally get where you’re coming from. Sometimes, watching my parents freak out over bills, taxes, the news and stuff makes being an adult look like the PITS! 🙁

But you’re right—getting older is going to happen no matter what. So, how do we face it without freaking out ourselves?!

I think the first thing is to remember that it’s a looooong process. It’s not like one day you’re going to be watching cartoons and learning your ABCs, then the next day you’ve got a job, a house payment and a leak in your roof.

A big part of our teenage years is about figuring out who we are as individuals. And most people have 5 to 6 teenage years before their family considers sending them out into the world. (And lots of people stay home for college, or a few years after high school graduation, so just because you turn 18, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically on your own.)

So, you should totally take it one step at a time! I don’t know how old you are, but here are a list of some of the things you might do as a teenager that will be steps TOWARD independence, while still living securely at home:

  • Take public transit by yourself
  • Stay home alone
  • Start doing your own laundry
  • Start preparing meals for the family
  • Get a part-time job
  • Get a bank account and debit card (with the help of your parents)
  • Help out more with yard work and housework
  • Get a driver’s license
  • Research college/post-high school options
  • Date responsibly
  • Manage your schoolwork
  • Stay home alone overnight

Even after you’ve moved out, it doesn’t have to mean you’re all alone in the world. For one thing, you’ll probably have roommates, whether in a college dorm or a starter apartment. Few young people can afford to live alone. So this will give you some peers to rely on for support.

And your parents will always be your parents. If you stay living in the same town, you’ll probably still see them a lot. They’ll still be there for you. Even if you move across the country, your family will STILL be there for you!

Plus, you’ll build your own family of people you choose to have in your life as roommates, friends and support for whatever comes up.

Also, think about what it is about being a kid that you love. If it’s freedom from responsibility, well, you’re out of luck. But like I said, you’ll have years to gradually learn how to be a responsible adult.

But if you’re afraid you’ll have to give up doing fun kid things, you won’t! Here are some of the things ADULTS I know do on a regular basis: roller derby, laser tag, comic conventions, softball leagues, board game clubs, skateboarding, movie marathons, watch cartoons, go camping, and on and on.

Being an adult DOES come with added responsibilities. But it ALSO comes with added freedoms! And by the time you’re actually old enough for the responsibilities, they probably won’t seem as intimidating.

For now, enjoy being a kid! Try not to spend those awesome kid years worrying about what comes next. And just know that it’s a process and your parents won’t kick you out of the nest before you’re ready to fly!

Do you have “Peter Pan syndrome” – afraid to grow up? Or are you in a hurry to be on your own? What’s your favorite part of being a kid, and what do you think will be the best part of being an adult? Tell us in the comments!
July 25, 2018

I’M TOO SKINNY / I’M TOO CHUBBY!!!

Hey Readers!
So, first of all, let me give you a little behind the scenes. Every week when I’m picking which letter to feature here on the website, I open up the email where the Ask Brandon questions come. And there are a LOT. So many. So I try to pick questions that I think will be interesting to more than just the person who wrote in, since I don’t have time to answer them all.

Sometimes I read through quite a few before I pick the perfect letter.

So this week, I was going through the latest questions, and I am not even kidding you, these two letters were BACK TO BACK in my inbox.

Here are the two letters:

Hey Brandon,
I’m a girl and I’m really skinny. I don’t look good in any dresses I wear and being skinny is bad for your health. I really want to put on weight and I’m 12 years old. By the way, I don’t like my height either!!!! HELP!!
Skinny & Skeptical

Dear Brandon,
I’ve been judged about my weight and sometimes it gets to me and I don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes I cry on the way home and run up to my room. Kids would call me names like whale, Santa Claus, and hippo. Sometimes I wish I were skinny so I could fit in. What do I do?! PLEASSSSE HELP!!!!
So Over Being Overweight

Okay, wouldn’t it be wild if both letter writers actually went to the same school and like, saw each other every day on the bus, and curvy girl looked at skinny girl and skinny girl looked at curvy girl and they were both wishing they could look more like the other one?
That might not be true, but I CAN guarantee that if you’re feeling uncomfortable about your body, you are NOT the only one. ESPECIALLY in middle school or high school.

It’s just such a weird, self-conscious time. And I can tell you it’s weird and self-conscious for boys, too. But I DO think it’s harder for girls. I think there are just more expectations put on girls to look a certain way, and a big part of that is body shape.

It’s 100% unfair. I’m really sorry. And I’m honored that you guys would write in to ME about that.

So first, health. Skinny And Skeptical mentioned being concerned that it was unhealthy to be too skinny. Someone who’s overweight might also have similar concerns. But in most cases, it’s probably just your natural body type. You shouldn’t take my word for it! You should go to your doctor and talk to them. If they feel like there’s any reason to be worried about your weight, they’ll help you make a plan. But probably? They’ll tell you it’s your body type, and also that your body shape is going to keep changing as you grow through your teenage years. But you’ll probably feel better if a doctor tells you not to worry about the health part. And if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your doctor or asking your parents to make an appointment for this reason, try talking to a school nurse about it.

Second, fashion. Skinny And Skeptical mentions feeling unattractive in dresses. And there’s a volunteer at Fuzzy Friends who’s a little bit chubby, and she complains when it gets hot because she says she doesn’t look good in shorts. So, this is another problem lots of people have, no matter their body size/shape.

I’m no fashion expert. But what I’m pretty decent at is using the internet. 🙂 I searched on Google and found out what to wear if you’re too skinny, overweight, too short, etc.

I looked at the search results for the body types and they give lots of tips for fashions that will look best on each body. I don’t think you should use these searches as RULES, like if you find something that says chubby people shouldn’t wear shorts, FORGET THAT. Wear what makes you comfortable. But if you’re trying to figure out what fashion styles might flatter your body type the best, turn to the fashionistas and fashionisters of the internet! They’ve got your back!

Finally, name-calling. This is the worst. I’m really, really sorry if people are calling you names because of your body type. That is AWFUL. It’s bullying, and if it’s happening at school or somewhere else with an anti-bullying protocol, I would encourage you to use those resources.

But I also know that a lot of times kids don’t want to report bullying because they’re afraid that will make it worse. In that case, try as hard as you can to not react when they call you names. If they get a reaction out of you, they’re more likely to keep coming back because you’re an easy target.

And later, when you’re hurting from what was said, try to find a way to express yourself and get your frustrations out, whether it’s by talking to a trusted friend or grown-up, writing in a journal, doing some art, hanging out with a fuzzy friend, or whatever.

I hope this helps. I also hope it helps to know you’re not alone.

Do you struggle with body image? How do you react if someone calls you a name? Tell us in the comments!