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Dork Diaries: Birthday Drama - Out Now!
Max Crumbly 3
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June 25, 2019

MY CELL PHONE DRAMA!

When I came down to breakfast this morning, my parents were BOTH sitting there, looking upset.

“Nikki,” my mom said sternly. “We need to talk.”

I had NOT done anything wrong! I was sure of it! I slumped into a chair, hoping we could get this over with so I could get some breakfast because last night Mom made cheesy meat surprise and the surprise was that it’s SURPRISINGLY DISGUSTING. So, I was starving.

“Young lady,” Dad complained. “You know you’re not allowed to download apps that cost money without permission!”
I sat up straighter. “I didn’t!” And I hadn’t!

“Don’t lie to us, Nikki J Maxwell,” Mom exclaimed. She was clearly bad cop. “The credit card linked to your phone is for the regular bill and nothing more. And WE pay that bill. Which means we see whatever charges go on it.”

I was frantically trying to put the pieces together in my head. HAD I bought an app on my phone? Maybe without meaning to? I really didn’t think so. But they had the same faces they’d had that time I was in charge of cleaning up the living room before Grandma Maxwell came over, and then while she was here she opened the hall closet and got buried in an avalanche of everything I’d shoved in there.

“What did I b-buy?” I stammered.

Dad buried his head in his hands. “Nikki, if you don’t even remember, that’s a sign of a serious spending problem. You’re going to have to get a whole lot more responsible.”

“Or lose your phone privileges,” Mom added.

If I insisted I didn’t know what I’d bought, they’d just get madder.

“I promise I’m not trying to make excuses,” I muttered. “I’m just confused and I’m trying to be responsible. It is possible for accounts to get hacked, though. So before I get punished for something, I’d really like to know what I’m being punished for.”
Mom’s face went red. I thought she might explode. But Dad nodded.

“All right, that’s fair,” he said, pulling out what looked like a credit card statement. “Does any of this ring a bell? Glamify Makeover app, bonus points in the game, Sugar Bomb, a year-long membership in Teen Datez. With a Z. And extra dog treats in the Puppy Palace game!”

That’s when I KNEW something was up. Because I had been desperately wanting those extra dog treats to get to the next level in Puppy Palace, but I wasn’t allowed to make in-app purchases!

They would just get mad if I tried to make excuses, though. Because I had to admit: it looked bad. But I thought I had a decent idea what had happened.

“Brianna!”

“Nikki,” Mom huffed. “You can’t blame this one on Brianna. This is your phone and you are responsible for these charges.”

Brianna appeared, perky and oblivious.

“Hey Brianna! Remind me, how do you get the golden bone in Puppy Palace?” I asked her.

“Oh! Once you buy the extra dog treats, it’s easy! You just tug on the silver leash and they appear!”

I turned to look at my parents. Mom’s eyes had narrowed at Brianna. Dad hadn’t caught up yet.

“And how are you doing on Sugar Bomb?” I asked suspiciously.

“It took me forever to get to the top of Rock Candy Mountain, but with the extra…”

Brianna caught up to what was happening right before Dad did. Her eyes went wide and her mouth snapped shut.

“Brianna,” Dad questioned her. “Have you been making purchases on Nikki’s phone?”

“Forget the purchases! What are you doing even touching my phone?! And how did you get in?! It’s got a password!” I fumed.

Brianna snorted. “Oh please, it’s Brandon’s birthday.” Then her mouth snapped shut again.

“Okay, the games make sense,” Mom concluded. “Maybe the makeover thing. But the dating app?”

Brianna looked nervous and started squirming. Then she finally admitted, “I thought it was a game! I didn’t know it would be for dates with real boys! EWWW!!!”

And THAT is how I realized I needed to change the password on my phone! (And also how I got the golden bone in Puppy Palace!!!)

What are your favorite online games to play? Tell us in the comments below!
June 23, 2019

SHOULD I GIVE UP???

Dear Brandon, 

I really love art, just like your BFF, Nikki Maxwell. So, I submitted my artwork in this art contest and I totally thought I’d win. I spent a lot of time on it and thought my work was really good! But, I didn’t win. I wasn’t even a runner up! Then another art contest came along and I decided to try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try again, right? But the same thing happened! Now I’m beginning to think I should just give up on being an artist and never do it again! What do you think?

Frustrated Failure

What’s Up Frustrated Failure,

First of all, you may be frustrated, but you’re NOT a failure. It’s awesome that you put your art out there in those contests. That’s kind of a scary step! Art can be really personal and meaningful, and putting it out there to be judged takes guts. So, good for you!

I’m sorry you didn’t win. But do I think you should give up on being an artist because you didn’t win a couple art competitions? No way!

Look, every single creator you admire has been rejected, lost an opportunity or been told they’re not good enough. Every. Single. One! Artists, musicians, actors, writers. Photographers, including me! Not that you necessarily admire me. 🙂

But just saying, I’ve been there.

We see the success, the end result of a lot of hard work. We don’t always see how many rejections or losses someone has been through. The same is true with athletes, scientists and politicians. You don’t win Olympic gold, make a major scientific discovery or win an election without first losing some games, having some failed experiments, and losing some elections.

But people who create art (or pursue a sport, an instrument or whatever) do it because they love to. That’s gotta be the main reason to do these things. If it’s just for prizes and winning then…yeah. I guess you should quit.

But you’re proud of the work you did. You spent a lot of time on it and thought it was good. You probably enjoyed doing it. So I think you should keep doing it, because you enjoy it. And as you do more, your skills will improve. Maybe you enter more contests, maybe you don’t. But either way, your skills get better.

Also, it’s good to remember that unlike a soccer game or a math test, the results of an art contest are completely subjective. That means that there’s no black and white way to determine what’s good or what’s not. It’s up to the individual taste of the judges. If you look at the reviews of a book or movie you LOVE, you’ll find multiple people who also HATE it. That’s because people’s opinions on art are all different. So you weren’t the winner for these particular judges. Maybe you will be for the next round of judges. But the main judge that matters is YOU – if you’re proud of the work you did, then hurray!

So go out there and make art! 🙂

Have you ever been rejected, not made a team, not gotten cast in a show, or not won a contest? And then did you keep trying? Tell us about it in the comments!
June 20, 2019

WHY WON’T MY MOM GIVE ME SOME SPACE?!?!

Hey Nikki!

My mom won’t back off and give me some space! I try my best to be polite about it, but she can be really annoying sometimes. I know she cares about me, but I need a little me time. And privacy! When I’m reading a really good mystery book, she just barges into my room without knocking! What can I do?

A Little Privacy Please!

Hi A Little Privacy Please,

Oh, parents! They mean well. At least, it sounds like your mom does. She wants to make sure you know she’s there for you. Not everyone has a mom like that!

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. It sounds like you know your mom is just trying to help. And it’s still understandable for you to want some space! Sometimes even the most supportive parent can be a little annoying.

I think you should keep politely asking for more privacy. It’s totally fair! But you’re more likely to get it if you offer a compromise. Your mom also needs time with you, and she wants to keep communication open to make sure you’re doing okay.
So, I think a family meeting would be good. Or just a talk between you and your mom, but it might be less awkward if you make this issue about all family members and don’t single your mom out. You guys could come up with a family agreement about personal space, quiet time, and family time. Some things on that agreement might include:

  1. Knocking on the door: This is a basic respect for space that kids should give to adults AND adults should give to kids. (Exception: any situation where they’re worried you’re in danger.)
  2. Door signs: You would have to promise not to overuse this, but you could make a sign to hang on your door when you really need privacy. You could get agreements from family members that if the sign is up, they’ll ONLY interrupt (by KNOCKING) when it’s absolutely necessary they talk to you. And everyone else should be allowed to use the signs too, if they’d like them.
  3. Talk time: Set a special time when you and your mom can chat. She wants to know how you’re doing! It can be awkward and annoying, but SO MANY of the letters I get could be answered with the same advice: Talk to your parents. It’s great that you have a parent who WANTS to talk to you. Keep that communication open!

I’m sure it might feel awkward to tell your mom this stuff, but it sounds like she really cares and wants to know how you’re feeling. So, she’s more likely to listen to you and respect how you feel. Be honest with her and make sure she knows you’re not ignoring her, and I thing it’ll work out.

How do you handle it when you need space from your family members? Tell us in the comments!
June 16, 2019

I’M SUCH A FOOL AROUND GIRLS!!!

Hey Dude! 

There’s this girl in my class who’s really pretty and nice. I try to talk to her but whenever I try, I act like a fool! I tried to compliment the way she smelled one time and I said she smelled like toilet bowl cleaner! Yeah, I know, I need SERIOUS HELP! How do I talk to such a beautiful girl?!?!?

Goofy Around Girls

What’s Up Goofy Around Girls,

LOL! Oh man, I feel your pain. But, I’ve also got to laugh for a minute. Toilet bowl cleaner?! 🙂 🙂 🙂

I get it, though. I’ve been there. I mean, not there exactly, but saying really dumb stuff when I’m trying to talk to a girl I like. It seems like some guys are so smooth and know exactly what to say. I’m not one of them. And neither are you, my friend. 🙂

But, you know what? I bet those guys who seem so smooth to us probably go home and replay their conversations with crushes and wish they’d said things differently, better or whatever. And I bet they have moments when they say totally dumb stuff, too. 

Here are my tips on talking to a crush (and I think these work for girls with guy crushes too):

  1. Remember, crushes are people too. When we have a crush, we sometimes put people on pedestals and act like they’re perfection, and if they’re perfection, then obviously they’re going to judge anyone who’s NOT, right? Uh, wrong. First, they’re not perfect. They say and do dumb stuff too. And did you ever think that she might be nervous talking to you as well? It’s highly likely! 
  2. Ask them questions about themselves and whatever they’re into. That way you show interest, and they’ll do most of the talking.
  3. Be authentic. Which is another way of saying be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you’re awkward, try to be funny. She might find it cute and amusing. And you want her to like you for who you are, not some made up, phony dude you can’t keep pretending to be forever.
  4. Remember there’s always tomorrow. I mean, if she obviously shuts you down and clearly wants nothing to do with you, you should absolutely back off and not approach her again. But otherwise? Everyone has off days, and you don’t only get one chance to talk to most people. Maybe next time you’ll be smoother. Maybe not. But you can keep trying. 
  5. Practice! I’m not saying talk to yourself in the mirror or anything. (Although you could…) But maybe spend more time talking to other girls, ones you don’t have crushes on. If you get more comfortable talking to girls in general, it won’t be such a huge leap to talk to a girl you have a big crush on. 

I hope these ideas help. I think I’m going to review them myself the next time I’m starting a conversation with MY crush!

How do you talk to a crush or someone you really like without turning into a puddle of goo? Share your advice in the comments! 
June 13, 2019

I NEED MY STUFFED ANIMAL WITH ME AT CAMP!!!

Hey Nikki! 

So I’m a little embarrassed to say this, but here it goes anyways: I’m 13 years old and STILL sleep with a stuffed animal! I’m going to summer camp soon and I’m afraid that everybody is going to judge me for it! But I’m going to be gone for a whole week so I don’t really wanna leave it at home. What should I do?

Cute And Cuddly Conflict

Hi Cute And Cuddly Conflict,

First of all, SQUEEE! Summer camp!! That sounds so fun!! 🙂

Here’s what you should do: Take your stuffed animal with you! A week is a long time away from home, and it’s totally normal to bring something that makes you feel more comfortable. For some people, that’ll mean certain pajamas, photos or a diary. Some people might bring all three! There’s nothing wrong with your comfort item being a stuffed animal. 

This is totally one of those situations where it’s ALL about how you react to what other people think. Let me give you some examples: 

You: (Unpacking)

Mean CCP girl: What’s that? (Pointing at your stuffed animal.)

You: What? (Looks guilty, grabs the animal, shoves it under your pillow.) Oh, nothing.

Mean CCP girl: Let me see! Is that…a stuffed animal?

You: What? No! My mom probably stuck it in my suitcase.

Mean CCP girl: OMG! She brought a stuffed animal! LOLOLOL!!! What a baby!!

OR, it could go like this…

You: (Unpacking)

Mean CCP girl: What’s that? (Pointing at your stuffed animal.)

You: (Totally matter-of-fact and confident.) That’s Mr. Fluffybottoms.

Mean CCP girl: Ummm…what?

You: Mr. Fluffybottoms. (You don’t offer any extra explanations unless asked because you’re awesome and not afraid to do you.) 

Mean CCP girl: Ummm…she brought a stuffed animal to camp.

You: Yep. Isn’t he cute?

OR

Yep, he reminds me of home.

OR 

Yep. Hey, who wants to roast marshmallows by the campfire and tell spooky ghost stories? 

If you don’t make a big deal of bringing your stuffed animal, no one else will. And honestly, everyone is going to be dealing with their own nerves about being away from home and trying to fit in. Even the CCPs! They probably won’t even notice.

And, if anyone does notice and makes fun of you, that’s a good sign of someone who’s insecure and not worth your time. You want your week of camp to be fun and awesome, which means only hanging with fun and awesome people, not haters. Fun and awesome people are not going to care if you have a stuffed animal. They might even have their own! 🙂

Do you have a favorite stuffed animal or thing that makes you feel more at home when you’re away? Tell us about it in the comments!
June 11, 2019

COOL NEW MAX C. VIDEO!

You’ve probably heard the exciting news that the Misadventures of Max Crumbly Book 3: Masters of Mischief was just released a few days ago!

Max is a good friend of mine and is Brandon’s best friend.

Here is a new 60 second Max C. video that I think you’ll really enjoy!

Here is a link to a SNEAK PEEK of the first six chapters of this book!

June 8, 2019

I’M BUMMED ABOUT SUMMER!

Hey Brandon,

I’m totally bummed because school is almost out!!! I know what you’re thinking – most kids are super excited to be free for the summer! And yeah, I’m looking forward to a break from teachers, homework, and getting up early every morning. But honestly, those things are worth dealing with when it means I get to hang out with my friends every day! I don’t live close enough to walk or bike to any of my friends’ houses! I’m going to be sooo bored and I’m going to miss everyone sooo much! What am I going to do?!?!

Super Sad Summer

What’s Up Super Sad Summer,

I definitely know lots of people who are really excited about summer and some people reading your letter might think that’s crazy. But hey, I totally get it. I like seeing friends every day. I also like the structure of a regular school day. You just…know what to expect from each day when you get up in the morning, right? That appeals to my personality. And honestly? I don’t hate ALL of my homework. Some of it is interesting.

So yeah, I get it. A long summer stretched out ahead of you can seem like it’s going to last forever. And missing your friends is the worst! Here are some things I’m doing to make the most of my summer. Maybe some of them will work for you, too:

  1. Stay busy. Some families are super busy with camps, activities, and travel. But even if you’re not doing any of that, you can find ways to stay busy. See if there’s anywhere you can volunteer, like an animal shelter or a library, or even going on walks to pick up litter in parks or on beaches. Maybe you can make some money babysitting, mowing lawns, or walking dogs. You could also sign up for activities that interest you, like music lessons, drawing classes, or martial arts. They’re also a great way to make new friends to hang with over the summer.
  2. Set goals. It could be as small as finishing a jigsaw puzzle, mastering a video game, or reading a book (I personally recommend my good friend Max Crumbly’s newest one, The Misadventures Of Max Crumbly 3: Masters of Mischief). Or it could be as big as training for a 5K or learning to play an instrument. You could try knitting a scarf or planting a garden. If your goal is too easy, try setting one you can’t complete in a day or a week. Something that will take some time, practice and studying YouTube tutorials to really master. It’ll keep you busy AND you’ll have accomplished something at the end of the summer.
  3. Spend time with family. If you have siblings, they might be bored too. I know it’s not the same as hanging with friends, but maybe there are some fun things you can do with your siblings to pass the time – or even have fun! 🙂 You guys could have movie marathons, board games, or campouts in the backyard, to name a few. Or if you don’t have any siblings, hang with other family members instead.
  4. Catch up on all of your fav shows, movies, and videos. Parents tend to limit how much screen time we get while we’re in school and have homework to do. So, now is your chance to go crazy with TV, Netflix, or YouTube!
  5. Spend time with your friends. Okay, I know you said you don’t live close enough, but if you make an effort to coordinate with parents, I’m sure you can arrange some sleepovers or other ways to hang with them. And if not, there’s always video chatting or other kinds of digital communication. I know it’s not the same, but still—it’s not like you say goodbye on the last day of school and then never hear from your friends again until fall.

I hope these ideas help. I know it seems like summer is going to last forever, but it really won’t. You’ll be back to school and hanging with friends before you know it. And maybe you’ll get some more ideas in the comments of how to spend your summer!

Hey guys, how do YOU pass the time during summer? How do you stay connected with friends if you don’t live close by? Tell us about it in the comments.
June 7, 2019

Author Rachel Renée Russell discusses the new Max Crumbly book

Bestselling author Rachel Renee Russell returns to #ConversationsLIVE to discuss her literary success and new book THE MISADVENTURES OF MAX CRUMBLY: Masters of Mischief.

June 5, 2019

I JUST CAN’T GET EVERYTHING DONE!!!

Hey Nikki,

I’m in the advanced study programs at school and I’m a regional champion at gymnastics. I work hard and my schedule is totally jammed up. I don’t even return home until 9:30 most nights, but now my mother has demanded an hour of math each day, adding on to my regular homework and tutor lessons. If I don’t do it, she takes away my phone for a month. What did I do wrong? I’m desperate and depressed because of how tired I am. Please help me!!!

Bothered By Burdensome, Busy Schedule

Hi Bothered By Burdensome, Busy Schedule,

OMG, it sounds like you have A LOT going on! Way more than you can possibly do, and that’s not even giving yourself time for fun and relaxation. And how about friends?! I’m tired just thinking about your schedule! 🙁

I don’t think you did anything wrong—it actually sounds like you’ve been trying to do everything right. Too right, maybe?

I’m no elite gymnast, but I know that sports like that require a TON of commitment and energy. You’ve obviously been giving it your all if you’re a champion! It was probably easier when you were younger and schoolwork wasn’t so demanding.
It looks like you need the following three things for both school and gymnastics to be successful:

  • Time spent doing the thing: practicing/training/study/tutoring
  • Nutrition to fuel you
  • Sleep (and down time when you’re awake, too).

It sounds like you’re SLAYING the first one! Hopefully you’re also eating well, because that gives you the energy you need. But the third one is really important too! Our bodies—and brains!—need time when they’re NOT working in order to recover. Muscles need time to heal and rebuild, and the brain needs time to make connections when it’s not working.

If you’re getting home late and still have hours of work to do before you can go to bed (before getting up early again, I’m assuming), you’re not getting enough rest. And that means your performance in school AND gymnastics is going to suffer. (And again…you’re probably not spending any time on friends or family, and those things are important for your mental health, too!)

So, something definitely has to change!

I think you need to sit down with your parents and talk to them about the pressure you’re feeling. You need to think about what’s really important to you. What really makes you happy? Does gymnastics still bring you joy, or is it all stress? And what’s important for your future? Is it all or nothing – can you keep doing gymnastics without doing the same amount of hours?

I’m guessing your mom is worried that your grades will suffer because of your long gymnastics hours and that’s why she’s requiring you to do the extra math every day. But if you’re too tired to think when you sit down to do that math, it can’t be very helpful! Try to talk to her about this and find a solution. If she insists on it, maybe that hour of math could be done in the morning after breakfast, when you’ve at least had some sleep and brain fuel.

I doubt your parents want you to sacrifice your schoolwork for gymnastics. But if you don’t want to cut down on your gymnastics time, maybe it’s possible to take on less responsibility at school without sacrificing your grades. Like if you’re trying to do any extra clubs or anything, it’s probably time to let those go.

And see if your school might work with you. Kids involved in really high level sports or performance activities can sometimes get school credit for them. Like your school might give you PE credit for your gymnastics time, and then during the period you would have PE class, you could have a study hour in the library. Or maybe you could get a study period instead of time that might be spent on a non-academic elective class.

But, something has to change! If you keep going like this, you’re going to burn out. You’re already feeling depressed. It’s great that you can identify that. Now work with your family, teachers and coaches to figure out how to turn things around so that you’re happy, healthy and doing your best!

Is your schedule too jam-packed? How do you get everything done? Tell us in the comments!
June 2, 2019

Come meet Rachel Renée Russell and Max Crumbly illustrator, Nikki Russell.

Rachel will be talking, answering questions, and signing copies of her new book The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 3: Masters of Mischief. Bring your Dork Diaries books to be signed!!

Event is free to attend, call the store if you have any questions.

Special Instructions
You will need a wrist band to join the signing line. Wrist bands are first come, first served starting at 12PM with proof of purchase of The Misadventures of Max Crumbly 3: Masters of Mischief from our location.

What: Discussion and Book Signing
Where: Barnes & Noble
12193 Fair Lakes Promenade Drive, Fairfax, VA 22033
When: Saturday, June 8th, 2pm

More Info: Visit B&N website or call 703.278.0300