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April 17, 2019

Dork Diaries 14: Tales from a Not-So-Best Friend Forever

Nikki Maxwell’s summer is packed with drama in this fourteenth installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

On sale October 22!

April 16, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN BRANDON CAME OVER FOR DINNER

March 19 Brandon Over For Dinner

Yesterday, Brandon came over to my house to work on a biology project with me. I was SO excited!! I knew we’d have a good two hours to talk about all kinds of fun things…like DNA, molecules, and osmosis.

That’s the stuff we were SUPPOSED to talk about, but I planned to discuss way cooler things…like fun stuff we could do together during Easter break!

I had it all planned out in my head: we’d order pizza, take it up to my room, and put the “No Brianna” sign on my door. (The one with her head in a circle and a diagonal line going through it!)

Then we’d spend about 15 minutes working on our project before spending the rest of the night giggling, flirting, and, okay, who I am kidding…probably blushing, staring at our feet, and being completely awkward!

Still, awkward blushing with Brandon is better than most things with everyone else!

The fantasy was pretty short-lived, though, because my mom had to go and ruin everything with seven horrible words: “we’d love to have Brandon for dinner!”

First of all, that would take AT LEAST a half hour, and I could think of a million in one better ways to waste ¼ of our time, like cleaning the bathroom toilet or singing “This is the Song That Never Ends” for thirty minutes straight. (Yup, I thought it would be that bad!)

But more importantly, I just knew that if my mom had a chance to talk to Brandon, she’d not only ask him a ton of stuff that’s none of her business, she’d also do something to humiliate me, like pull out pictures of me as a baby, naked in the sink.

When the doorbell rang at 6:00, I jumped down the stairs so fast that I tripped and ended up banging into the door.

So, THAT’S how I greeted Brandon…with a big, loud thud, followed by an awkward “Hi” as I rubbed my aching shoulder. Still, I forgot all about the pain once I saw his cute face!

Within minutes, we were sitting at the kitchen table, where my mom was pretty much staring at him with this super weird look on her face. Every now and then, when he wasn’t looking, she’d try to get my attention and then mouth something creepy about him, like, “He’s cute!” So gross!

After that, my dad bored us with a super long rant about bugs.

Though in his defense, Brandon had said, “Sure, Mr. Maxwell. I’d love to hear about the latest advancements in pest control.” (He’s SUCH a sweet liar!)

Once my dad finished, Brandon told another whopper, saying, “Gee, Mrs. Maxwell, this is the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted.”

My mom responded, “I’m glad you’re enjoying it! You know, there’s something I’d like to show you.” Then she got up and started moving toward her hope chest, where I know she keeps all her photo albums.

OMG, I was TERRIFIED! I just knew she was going to pull out my baby pictures, and I definitely didn’t want that! The next bit felt like it happened in slow motion. I saw her. I panicked. I lunged. I shouted, “Nooooooo!”

And then I practically slammed the chest shut. Everyone was just staring at me, like I was some kind of crazy woman!

My mom said, “Wow, Nikki, I didn’t know you were so protective of Grandma’s meatloaf recipe.”

My face turned BRIGHT RED, and I said something totally dumb, like, “Oh, well, it’s, like, a Maxwell family secret!”

I thought for sure Brandon was going to think I was some kind of lunatic after that. But when we got to the living room 15 minutes later, he said, “I’m so psyched about Easter break. I really hope we can hang out then!”

Squeeee!! Brandon wants to hang out! I may have bruised my shoulder and embarrassed myself big time, but it was the best night ever!

If you could invite someone really special over to your house, who would it be and why? Tell us in the comments!
April 11, 2019

MY FRIENDS GET ALONG SO WELL THAT THEY LEAVE ME OUT!

Dear Nikki,

I have these two friends. I was hoping they could be my “Chloe” and “Zoey” so that we could hang out as a BFF threesome and do everything together. But they get along so well that they mostly just talk to each other and I always feel SO left out. It’s driving me NUTZ! Please help!!

Odd One Out

Hi Odd One Out,

Friendship stuff can be SO hard. Our friends are HUGE parts of our lives, and we love them like family, but they’re NOT family. Most of the time, family kind of HAS to accept us. But with friends, there can be worries and insecurities that if we do something wrong, we could lose them.

Try to take a step back from the worries and look at things with a clearer eye. There are some great things going on here.

First, you have two BFFs! That’s amazing! I get SO many letters from people who feel like they don’t have one super special friend, and you have TWO.

Second, your two BFFs get along! That’s amazing too! I also get letters from a lot of people with the problem that their two BFFs hate each other and that’s super stressful.

So you COULD choose to see this as awesome – you have two BFFs who totally get along! And it sounds like maybe they’re new to being friends with each other. So maybe they’re in the early, new stage of being close friends, so they’re catching up and getting to know each other, because they both already know YOU super well.

I get that you feel left out. I think it comes from a fear that they’ll become such good BFFs that they won’t need or want you anymore. But instead, try to think of it as them building their bond together so they’re as close to each other as they each are to you. Because that’s the only way you’ll be a BFF threesome!!!

Trust in your bond with each of your friends and try to celebrate the fact that they’re connecting so well. Maybe have them both over to your house, where you’ll feel a bit more in control of what’s happening, but don’t stand in the way of them getting their friendship on.

Because honestly, the closer they are to each other, the closer you’ll be as a group. And I can tell you: BFF trios are THE BEST!!!

Do you have a group of three BFFs? Are there ever problems with one person feeling left out? Tell us about it in the comments!
April 9, 2019

Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After!  

Today is an excerpt from Dork Diaries Book 8: Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After!

After the WORST day ever, I end up with a bump on my head in gym class and have the WILDEST dream!

My BFFs Chloe and Zoey, Brandon, and MacKenzie all end up playing the roles of some of my favorite classic fairy tale characters.

Of course, the stories don’t go quite as expected and my fairy godmother is a little wacky. In the end, I desperately need to find my way back home before it’s too late!

Have you read Dork Diaries Book 8? If so, what was your favorite part?  Who was your favorite character?
Please leave your comments below.
April 6, 2019

I’M NERVOUS ABOUT WEARING GLASSES!

Hey Brandon,

I’m FREAKING OUT because I was just told that I need glasses! I’m really nervous about it because not many kids in my classroom wear them and I’m afraid I might get teased. What should I do?!

Four Eyed Freak

Hey Four Eyed Freak,

Okay, first of all—you’re NOT a four eyed freak. Whoever came up with the rude “four eyes” insult needs to get a life!

Secondly, I get it. Anything that makes you feel different can be scary. Most of us just want to fit in.

But honestly, glasses are really common. Maybe you have an unusual classroom where not very many kids wear glasses, but more and more kids are wearing them or contacts these days, partly because of how much more time we spend looking at screens than our parents and grandparents did.

The fact is, haters are gonna hate no matter what you do. If it’s not about your glasses, it’ll be about something else. Or at least, it will be if you’re a good target for teasing—meaning you’re someone who reacts to being teased. I know adults always say to ignore teasing, and it can be super hard to do that, but it really is good advice. Because the more you get upset abut teasing, the more you’ll amuse your teasers and they’ll keep doing it.

So if you can just shrug them off and wear your glasses confidently, that’s going to be the best thing you can do. Probably, once you get over feeling different, your glasses will really improve your vision. You’ll be able to see the classroom marker board better in school. You’ll see movies and TV more clearly. You might be having headaches now that will go away. The doctor wouldn’t be saying you need them if they weren’t going to make your life easier in the long run.

And look at it this way – you get to go shopping for a cool new accessory. Nikki says there are some super cute frames out there. So cute that some people wear glasses just for fun or to make a fashion statement, when they don’t even really need them! On some websites, you can upload a picture of your face and then “try on” all sorts of glasses. Playing with different styles like that might be a good way to get excited.

Focus on the fun of new frames and how much the glasses will help you, and even though there could be a transition where people talk about your new glasses, pretty soon they’ll just be a regular part of your look and no one will even notice.

Hey readers, do you wear glasses? Do you have something else about you that makes you stand out? What advice do you have for…um, Not A Four Eyed Freak? Tell us about it in the comments.
April 5, 2019

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

Meet Rachel Renée Russell and her daughter, Nikki at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on SATURDAY, APRIL 13TH!

University of Southern California – Hoffman Hall
701 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90089

  1. Panel Discussion:

    IT TAKES TWO: CO-AUTHORING MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

    Rachel Renée Russell and Nikki Russell will be participating as panelists.

    Location: Hoffman Hall
    Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am

    This is a FREE event!  However, you must have a TICKET. FREE tickets are available starting April 7th at 9:00 am.

    For more information on FREE tickets, visit LATimes
    (Please note that a $2.50 service fee applies to each ticket)

  2. Book Signing #1

    FOR RACHEL AND NIKKI RUSSELL

    Location: Hoffman Hall – Signing Area 1
    Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

    Get FREE Dork Diaries and Max Crumbly posters, bookmarks, and stickers while supplies last!

    This is a FREE event and no ticket is required.

  3. Book Signing #2

    FOR RACHEL AND NIKKI RUSSELL

    Location: Booth 732 – Once Upon a Time Bookstore
    Time: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

    Get FREE Dork Diaries and Max Crumbly posters, bookmarks, and stickers while supplies last!

    This is a FREE event and no ticket is required.

April 3, 2019

I FEEL PRESSURED TO BE LIKE THE PERFECT GIRLS IN MAGAZINES, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND ON TV!

Hi Nikki,

It seems like the only way to fit in is if you have long flowing hair, flawless skin, and stylish clothes, just like all the glam girls do on TV, in magazines, and social media. I don’t have any of those things, and it makes me feel really bad. Should I get a makeover?

Wish I Was Perfect

Hi Wish I Was Perfect,

OMG!! I totally feel this. I wish you could see me now. I have a GIANT zit right on the end of my nose!!! If I were drawing myself in my diary, I FOR SURE wouldn’t include the zit!!! I’m a DORK, not the Wicked Witch of the West!!!

It’s the same on TV, in magazines and social media. Those perfect faces and bodies? None of it is real! The glam girls (and guys too, honestly) you see on screens and magazine covers are so filtered, Photoshopped, airbrushed and digitally altered that you probably wouldn’t even recognize the real person if you passed them on the street! 

(If you Google “Photoshopped models,” you’ll see a bunch of before and after shots. They’ll COMPLETELY open your eyes!)

I’m not just talking about zits getting removed. I’m talking about bodies being completely reshaped – stomachs flattened, legs slimmed down, eyes enlarged, cheekbones raised. It’s gotten so extreme that some countries have created laws to regulate it, because it’s a public health issue.

People see these images and believe they need to look the same way, only these bodies are FAKE, which is dangerous! They’re totally messing with our minds. Some girls feel like we should go on strict diets or even STARVE in order to lose unhealthy amounts of weight so that they can look like those models!

So do you need a makeover? Sure. A CONFIDENCE makeover!!! 🙂 

I mean, you could spend a bunch of money on fancy clothes, makeup and hair styling. But it’s not going to change anything. You’re still not going to look like models in magazines because you’re a human being, not a fake image. And you’re still going to find things to feel insecure about. 

As soon as you have long, flowing hair, super short pixie cuts will be the style. And, even if you DID have perfect hair, skin, and clothes, you might start thinking that your nose is too long, your eyes are too close together, or your feet are too big.

If you think a perfect appearance will make you fit in, take a closer look at the most popular kids at your school. Are they perfect? I guarantee they’re not. (Nobody is!) They’re just kids who have confidence and attractive personalities.

So, remember the truth about the models in those pictures. Usually, they’re just trying to sell you something. Always, they’re trying to make you feel like they have something you don’t. 

But YOU have something they don’t! You’re a real human being with a brain, a heart, strengths AND flaws. When you show those things to the world with confidence, another girl who’s wondering if she’s enough will see you and feel better about herself too!

Do pictures of models ever make you feel like you’re not good enough? Have you ever looked at how those pictures are changed to make you think they’re perfect? Any advice for Wish I Was Perfect? Tell us in the comments.
April 1, 2019

BRIANNA’S TEACHER IS A WITCH!!

For the past few days, Brianna has totally been FAKING SICK. Believe me, I should know. In case you haven’t read my first diary, I’m a pro at this fake sick stuff. Seriously, I make one MEAN bowl of fake vomit!

So anyway, Mom caught Brianna using her red lipstick to make fake chicken pox on her face. That’s when the truth came out about why she’d been faking.

“Miss Pringle is a WITCH!!!!” Brianna wailed. “I can’t go to back to school or she’ll curse me and turn me into a FROG!!!!”

Apparently, Miss Pringle was the long-term sub in Brianna’s classroom since her regular teacher was out for the rest of the week because of her new baby. The first couple days Miss Pringle had been in her classroom, Brianna liked her. She told Brianna she was “a very special little girl.” (LOL!! Yeah right, if you’re not related to her!!!)

But something changed.

“Sophia was classroom helper last Monday, and the next day she was absent! She hasn’t been back ever since!”

“Sophia’s great grandmother passed away,” Mom said gently. “Her family went to Florida.”

“The next day Noah was classroom helper, and then he threw up at lunch!”

“Um, doesn’t Noah have gross-out contests with whoever can bring the grossest food and eat it in front of everyone?” I asked.

“And the next day Isabella was classroom helper and the day after she came to school with the WORST. HAIRCUT. EVER!!!!”

Mom and I glanced at each other. That one couldn’t really be debated.

“I’m supposed to be classroom helper next!!” Brianna sniffled.

I could tell Mom was about to argue that Miss Pringle wasn’t a witch and that witches don’t exist. But Mom could do it until she was blue in the face and Brianna would STILL believe they do, just like the boogieman in her closet.

So, that’s when I decided to take matters into my OWN hands.

“Look, Brianna,” I said. “You can’t hide forever. And even if you could, she’s just going to keep cursing the rest of the kids in your class.”

I ignored the death stare Mom was giving me.

“Someone has to stand up to her to STOP HER! You see her for what she really is, so I think it should be you.

“But how?”

“Chocolate.”

“What?!” Brianna and Mom both yelped at the same time.

I shrugged, like it was SO obvious. “Chocolate! It’ll protect you and your classmates, AND it’ll take the witch’s power away so she’s just a nice substitute again. Follow me!”

I led them to the kitchen, climbed the stepstool to reach into the highest cabinet and pulled out the bag of Hershey’s Kisses that I knew Mom kept stashed there. She scowled.

“You take this bag to school,” I instructed her. “And you give one chocolate kiss to each kid in your class. No one has allergies, do they?”

“Jaden can’t have shellfish.” Brianna replied, her eyes glued on the bag of candy.

“Then you’re good! It doesn’t matter that you’re the classroom helper. EVERYONE has to have a chocolate kiss for the spell to work. And then the most important part is that you give Miss Pringle THREE chocolate kisses.”

“But she’s the witch!”

“It’ll change her back to normal. And you’ll be a hero!”

Brianna WAS a hero that day. What kid wouldn’t be, if they bring candy to school and share it with everyone?!

Obviously, Miss Pringle WASN’T a witch. But thanks to my creativity and brilliance, Brianna was happy to be back in school again. The only one who wasn’t very happy was my mom, when she realized I knew about her chocolate stash.

No one tell her I also know where she keeps the Twizzlers! 🙂

If you could bring a special treat to share with your classmates, what would it be? What’s your fav candy or snack? Share all the delish details in the comments section below!
March 30, 2019

MY FRIEND WILL BE MAD IF I TRY OUT FOR SPORTS!!!

Dear Brandon,

Me and my BFF have always thought popular people like athletes and cheerleaders were mean, rude, self-centered, and obsessed with their team sport. But…lately I’ve wanted to try out for cheer and basketball! I’m scared my BFF will get mad and won’t be my friend anymore if I try out for these teams. HELP!!!

So Not A CCP

Hey So Not A CCP,

This situation sounds really tricky. But, to be honest, I think it’s going to turn out better than you expect. I think your friend will be surprised, for sure. But mad? Only if you completely dump her and turn into a mean, rude, self-centered person who’s obsessed with their team sport or whatever.

You sound like a nice person, so I don’t think you’re going to do that. And neither do ALL athletes and cheerleaders. Because there’s a lot more to them than some silly stereotype. They’re people, after all. Good, bad, and sporty. 🙂

It’s easy to talk badly about cute, cool, popular people, or as Nikki calls them, “CCPs.” They seem untouchable, like they have all the power. A lot of times, we assume CCPs are looking down on us, so we look down on them first. But the truth is, they’re just living their lives, with all their own insecurities too.

There’s this thing my grandma says all the time: When you know better, you do better. It’s from an author named Maya Angelou. Sometimes we do, say or think certain things because we don’t have enough information. Now, that doesn’t let us off the hook. Sometimes we don’t have enough information because we’ve been too lazy or judgmental to learn more about whatever it is.

But eventually we learn more, and then we know better, and then we change our attitude and our actions.

So you’ve learned more about cheer and basketball. Enough to want to do them yourself. And as you do them, you’ll get to know the other people who do them, and your point of view will change. So can your BFF’s!

When you tell your BFF about your new interests, explain WHY you’re interested in cheer and basketball. Maybe she’ll want to join you. And whether she does or not, maybe she’ll see cheerleaders and athletes in a new light if you become one. Just make sure your friend knows you’re not dumping her for these new activities. You’re just trying something new, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Hey guys, do you think it’s okay to start doing something that your friends don’t like? What advice do you have for So Not A CCP?
March 27, 2019

WHY WON’T MY PARENTS GET ME WHAT I WANT?!

Hey Nikki,

I’m just your average girl who wants to have fun just like everybody else! I mean, a trip to Disney World, an American Girl doll, or a cell phone would be nice, right? Especially since all of my friends have those things! But whenever I ask my parents for stuff like that, they always tell me I can’t have it due to “financial issues,” whatever that means. Why do they keep telling me NO, and how do I get them to change their minds?!

Feeling Frustrated

Hi Feeling Frustrated,

I get it. I swear, I was the last person I knew to get my own cell phone. It was TORTURE!!! And going to a private school when my family doesn’t have a ton of money, sometimes it seems like everyone around me has everything they want and I have nothing.

But, I think the words “SEEMS LIKE” are important there. Do ALL your friends have cell phones? Maybe. But all of them probably don’t have American Girl dolls or trips to Disney World. And even if they do have all those things, that doesn’t mean they’re happy. (I kinda learned that lesson when Mackenzie wrote in my diary for a while…)

It’s natural to want things, especially fun things that seem like they would make your life better. But I know your parents still care about you! I know mine do, even when they’re TOTALLY embarrassing and have to pick me up in a van with a GIANT ROACH on the top!!! Like, I’m sure my dad would rather pick me up in an awesome sports car. But he works hard at his bug extermination business, and the roach-mobile is all he has, and it gets us where we need to go. So even when I’m SUPER embarrassed, I try hard to be grateful for what we do have.

I know you want to change your parents’ minds. But the thing is, it sounds like they don’t have enough money to afford what you want right now. It’s not like letting you hang out with your friends or go outside to play. Those things are free, but American Girl dolls, cell phones, and trips to Disney World aren’t.

When we don’t understand stuff like “Financial issues,” it can be hard to take seriously. When parents say that they have financial issues, it means they might be worried they don’t have enough money to for stuff that’s important, like having a place to live and enough food to eat.

For example, I asked my parents about all the stuff they have to pay for. This is what they came up with: our house, clothes, groceries, gas, Brianna’s dance lessons, phone bills, and medical bills. Then I asked my dad if that’s everything. After he laughed for about an hour, he started listing more things they pay for: car insurance, car payments, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, medical insurance, internet, electricity, water, sewage (ew), garbage pick-up, birthday presents, vet bills, and more! (He was still listing stuff when I left the room.)

It’s not our job to worry about how our parents pay for all of those things. But we can help by not demanding all kinds of extra stuff they can’t afford. If there’s something you really want that’s reasonable – because honestly, a trip to Disneyworld is out of reach for lots of families – think about what YOU could do to help get it!

Like, take an American Girl doll for example. On the website, it costs $115 for the doll and book, no extra accessories. Whoa! So what could you do to get that doll? Here are a few ideas:

  1. For your birthday and holidays, you could ask your parents and grandparents to give you money so you can save it up to buy the doll yourself.
  2. Consider if you own anything valuable that you could sell to earn the money. Please remember to your parents’ permission first!
  3. Consider getting a used doll. I looked at some online sites that sell used stuff and found American Girl dolls for $50 and $60! That’s still expensive for a doll, but it’s half the price of buying a new one.

I think you need to show your parents you’re grateful for what you have and want to learn to be responsible with money. Then, when they have the chance, they’re more likely to help you get the things you want.

Are your parents always saying “no” to things because it costs too much money? How do you handle it? Tell us in the comments.