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Dork Diaries: Birthday Drama - Out Now!
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November 20, 2019


Hi Nikki!

Now that I’m in fifth grade, I’m getting totally SLAMMED with homework. The teachers are probably getting us ready for middle school, but sometimes I have like THREE HOURS of homework! The only way to get it done is to come straight home from school and spend all my time on assignments! If I do the school play, softball or anything else, I’ll never get everything done! Do you have any advice for me?

Horrible Homework Hassle

Hi Horrible Homework Hassle,

Oh ugh, you’re totally right. The teachers are trying to prepare you for middle school. But instead of piling on the work, it seems like they should let you be a kid for as long as you can!

I did some research and the National Parent-Teacher Association recommends ten minutes of homework per grade, per night. So…

  • If you’re in third grade, you shouldn’t have more than thirty minutes
  • Fourth grade, forty minutes
  • Fifth grade, fifty minutes, and so on.

However, please don’t use this as an excuse NOT to complete your homework! I can promise you, your teacher is NOT going to be very happy to hear you didn’t finish your homework just because you read on the Dork Diaries website that Nikki Maxwell said a fifth grader should only have fifty minutes of homework. It won’t be MY fault if you get a bad grade! LOL!

But, I totally agree that three hours sounds like way too much for fifth grade! ☹!!

The first step might be figuring out if you REALLY have three hours of homework. I mean, I believe you that it’s taking too long. But could it be taking that long because you have lots of distractions and take lots of breaks, etc.? I’m not saying you shouldn’t take breaks, but there’s a difference between taking a five minute break every thirty minutes or so and drifting to TV, video games, or your text messages between every math problem. ☺

You might also experiment with what time of day you work best on homework. After school, you’re already exhausted from working your brain all day. Maybe you’d work more efficiently (meaning more quickly!) if you got up earlier in the morning! Or maybe you need a break after school, but you work well after dinner.

It’s definitely not cool if your homework keeps you from doing any other activities you enjoy. Those activities aren’t only for fun, either. Things like school plays and team sports are important for building teamwork skills, discipline, and other educational-type stuff, I’m sure!

Sometimes it’s hard if you’re getting the homework from different teachers, like if you go to different teachers for math and language arts, they might assign work not thinking about how much other work you’re also getting.

Kids complaining about homework is an age old thing and I don’t know how much luck you’d have if you go straight to the teacher. I think talking to your parents should probably be the next step, after making sure you’re using your time well. Bring them the statistic about ten minutes per grade. Show them your assignments. See what they think.

If your parents talk to your teacher about it, there’s more of a chance something might change. If they get other parents involved, that could increase the chances even more. A whole group of parents approaching the school to talk about the homework load could be really effective.

I hope you and your parents and teachers can work this out. I think everyone has the same goal—for you to learn and be prepared for middle and high school. But part of that has to be giving your brain a rest and giving you time for other activities. You have my support!

Do you get a ton of homework? Do you have tips for getting it all done? Tell us in the comments!

November 18, 2019


Sometimes, my mom is cool. And then, OMG!! Sometimes, it’s like something SNAPS inside her, and everything she’s kept locked up tight EXPLODES out of her like a hurricane through an ant hill and WE’RE the poor little ants getting blown to smithereens!!!

Like this morning at breakfast. All I did was ask her for a glass of orange juice. Is that so much to ask??? Some nutrition to start my day?? Really, it’s kind of her JOB.

But that started her off on a RANT the likes of which I’d never SEEN before!! My diary doesn’t even have enough pages to contain it all!! Here are a few highlights:

YOU have two legs, don’t you??? Do your arms work??? Do you KNOW how to pour juice??? Of course, if you get the juice, you’ll leave the carton on the counter and it will SPOIL unless I come along and put it AWAY and also you’ll leave your dirty glass out when you’re done, and it will NEVER get washed unless I come along a wash it…

This went on for a WHILE.

And THEN when she finally lost steam, my dad suggested maybe we could all start doing more housework.

Which is how I ended up raking leaves outside. WHICH, I would like to point out, is NOT housework. It’s YARD work. My mom said NOTHING about yard work. My Dad TOTALLY took advantage of the situation and added yard work to the mix! ☹

But there I was raking leaves that kept blowing all over the place, and then raking them again. It was like I was getting punished for something. I don’t know WHAT my crime was!!! Trying to get some vitamin C????

When Brianna finished her chore—dusting the living room, which takes about five seconds—she came running outside.

“YAY! LEAF PILES!! WHEEEEEE!!!!” She screeched.

And before I could stop her, she jumped into my best pile.

“Ugh, Brianna!!!” I was about to go off on her, but then I saw her goofy face and thought about how much my mom had already yelled at us this morning.

“Okay, look,” I muttered, “Just help me get these leaves back into a nice pile, okay?”

She said okay and messed the pile up even more as she climbed out of it.

We only had one rake, and it was way too big for Brianna anyway, so she went inside the house and came back out with…a spatula.

I wanted to ask her if she’d lost her mind, but then I figured if she was busy trying to get the leaves up with a spatula, at least she wouldn’t be diving into them.

We’d finally gotten them back into a pile (well, I’D finally gotten them back into a pile and Brianna never jumped in it, thank goodness) when a professional yard guy came down the sidewalk with—I KID YOU NOT—a leaf blower!!!!

He had the dang thing ON, with giant headphones protecting his ears from the roaring. But that meant he also didn’t hear US when we shouted at him NOT to blow over OUR leaf pile!!!!

But he TOTALLY DID!!!!!

I sank down to the leaf-covered ground.

“I give up!!” I shrieked. But he obviously couldn’t hear me.

“Don’t give up, Nikki,” Brianna said, patting my shoulder. Then she reached down, picked up an armful of leaves and threw them in the air. “Look how pretty they are!”

She was making the mess worse. But also? The leaves WERE pretty. I picked up a handful and threw them in the air.

A minute later, we were having a fun, full-blown leaf fight!

Sure, it took me all afternoon to finally wrangle those leaves into yard waste bags, but it was worth it.

And tomorrow morning? I’m getting my OWN orange juice so that mom won’t freak out and make me rake them again!! ☹

Do you like jumping into leaf piles? What’s your fav fall activity? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

November 16, 2019


Hey Brandon,

I have this HUGE problem! I absolutely CAN’T save my money! I always see something I want when I do have money. Then I just spend it all and can’t think of a way to save it! Please give me some tips on how to save my money so I can buy an iPhone!!

Bothered By Being Broke

Hey Bothered By Being Broke,

Okay look, an iPhone is A LOT of money, especially if your parents don’t want you on one of those monthly payment plans. So, you might want to start with a goal that’s a little more reasonable. Because you could work hard to save $100 and you still wouldn’t be anywhere close to an iPhone! Then you’d probably give up and decide you couldn’t do it.

How about working on your money saving skills with a few smaller goals? You’ll build your skills and your confidence and then when you’re more of a saver, you can shoot for something big, like that iPhone.

Here are a few ideas.

  1. Keep track of what you spend and how you spend it. You could do this in a notebook or computer. Just keep a list of every penny you spend. List what you bought and when, plus how much it cost. Sometimes just knowing you’re going to have to write it down later might make you think twice about wasting money on something kind of pointless. After a month or so of keeping track, look at your list. Look for patterns. Are you spending most of your money on candy? Or video games? Or something else? When you know your habits, it’s easier to work on changing them.
  2. Save first. Whenever you get money, take some of it and put it somewhere safe. That might mean giving it to a parent for safekeeping. So maybe you decide to always save half, and keep the other half for spending. You get $10? Before you do anything else, you put $5 of it into savings. Work up to saving more than you keep for spending. If you always keep a little to spend on small things, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on everything.
  3. Ask your parents for help. If your parents see you working hard to save your money, they may be willing to help you reach your goal. Maybe they would agree to match each dollar you save with a certain amount. Like, say they agree to give you twenty-five cents for every dollar you save. Then if you save $100, they’ll pitch in $25 and you’ll be closer to your goal.

Saving money is hard. But it’s a good skill to learn, since it’s something we’ll have to do for the rest of our lives. I hope these tips help!

What’s something you’ve always wanted to save enough money for? What are your best money-saving tips? Tell us in the comments.

November 15, 2019

Listen to Rachel Renee Russell’s interview with Arroe Collins

Rachel Renée Russell’s talks with host Arroe Collins about how she handles the difficulties kids face today in her latest book: Tales From A Not So Best Friend Forever.

Listen to “Rachel Renee Russell Is BackTales From A Not So Best Friend Forever” on Spreaker.

November 11, 2019


Guess What?!

YOU just made the front page of your school newspaper! How COOL and EXCITING is that?! So, I want all the details please! It should be one of the following:

  1. Something REALLY COOL that actually happened to you that was worthy of the front page of your school newspaper.
  2. Something REALLY COOL that could actually happen to you and is front page news.
  3. Something REALLY COOL that you WISH could happen to you and/or is your WILDEST DREAM and worthy of a front page headline.

Please include a headline with your answer. For example, I won first place in an art contest before, so my headline would be, “ARTISTIC GENIUS! NIKKI SNAGS FIRST PLACE IN ART CONTEST.” Then you can write a paragraph about what happened.

Squeeee!! I just can’t WAIT to see what you write! 🙂

November 9, 2019


Brandon, HELP!

Why do people spread rumors?! I told someone something, and then the very next day the whole school was gossiping about it, and twisting everything around to things I didn’t even say. I should have known because the person I told is always spreading rumors. But she’s also my friend! What do you do when all the gossip, rumors, and stories are about YOU???!!!

Gossip Grief

What’s Up Gossip Grief,

Ugh, this is awful and I’m sorry it’s happening to you. ☹

You should be able to trust your friends to keep your secrets. Next time you probably won’t trust that particular friend.

The best thing you can do when rumors and gossip about you get out of control is do your best to shrug it off and look like you don’t care. It’s SO HARD, I know. But the bigger deal you make of it, the more people will talk about it. If you’re just “whatever” about it, it’s more likely to blow over sooner. People will move on to other things.

But it’s really important to remember that even when the rumors and gossip move on to someone else, they’re still hurting somebody! They’re even hurting you, because if you’re a part of making rumors and gossip okay in your school, then they’re going to talk about YOU too, eventually.

So, here are some things to keep in mind for stopping the rumors. And maybe you can discuss these guidelines in your friend group and try to help each other remember not to do these things.

  1. RULE #1: Don’t assume something is true unless you’re hearing it directly from the source. Even if something is true, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to spread it around.
  2. RULE #2: If you wouldn’t say something in front of someone, don’t say it behind their back.
  3. RULE #3: If you wouldn’t say something to/about someone in person, don’t say it online.
  4. RULE #4: Whenever you’re about to pass along a rumor or a juicy bit of gossip, think about how you feel right now. How would you feel if you were the target of this particular bit of gossip? It can feel really good and powerful to be in the know, but is it worth the hurt you might cause?

Have you ever been the target of gossip? Have you ever spread rumors? Tell us about it in the comments.

November 8, 2019


Hey Nikki,
So my friend Harper is “friends” with this other girl named Alexa. But the problem is that Alexa is SUPER mean to Harper! Alexa shouts at her and makes nasty comments, and Harper always looks really hurt and upset. They make up really quick, but it all starts over again right away. I tell Harper that she can always hang out with me and my friends and that the way Alexa treats her is wrong, but she says that she “already forgave Alexa and it’s normal for friends to fight”. I want to help Harper but she won’t listen! HELP!!!

Frustrating Friendship Fiasco

Hi Frustrating Friendship Fiasco,

GEEEEZ!! I’m trying to imagine how I would react if someone was treating Chloe or Zoey that way and my blood is boiling!!! That is NOT okay!!! ☹!!

But…and this is the super frustrating thing…there’s not a lot you can do! You’re already doing what you can—letting Harper know you’re there for her, and pointing out that Alexa’s behavior is UNACCEPTABLE.

It’s hard because Harper isn’t wrong – it IS normal for friends to fight, and forgiveness is a really important part of any friendship. But this sounds like it’s 1) happening way too often and 2) is really one-sided. If only one person does the shouting and one person does the forgiving, that’s not really a fair fight. And if they’re fighting more than they’re having fun, that’s miserable for everyone!

The trouble is, your friend seems determined to stay friends with a “mean girl.” For some reason, she feels like she can’t back away. So all you can really do is keep being there for her and letting her know YOU are a true friend.

But, you also don’t have to sit around and watch her get hurt. Because I’m sure that’s super uncomfortable and even painful for you to watch! So it’s totally fair to get out of there when a fight starts up. It doesn’t mean you’re not supporting her. It means you can’t keep watching her let this happen. So you tell her, “Look, I love you, but I can’t watch you get hurt over and over. I’ll be around when you’re done with this.”

And then keep showing up for her and inviting her to hang out and treating her like a real friend does. Hopefully she’ll realize how much better she feels with friends who treat her right. But ultimately, it’s up to her to decide when she’s had enough of that “friendship!”

Have you ever had to watch a friend be treated badly? How did you handle it? Have you ever felt stuck in a messy friendship that made everyone miserable? How did you get out? Tell us in the comments!

November 2, 2019


Host Cyrus Webb welcomes back bestselling author Rachel Renee Russell to ConversationsLIVE to discuss her amazing decade of delivering the Dork Diaries books to readers, how it feels to share book #14 with the world and how she took real-life issues and incorporated them in the latest story.

November Calendar – Happy 10th anniversary!

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

1 vertical page – 8½ x 11in
October 28, 2019



It’s THAT time of the year again…HALLOWEEN!

Instead of my usual ASK BRANDON column, I decided to have a fun and exciting PUMPKIN CARVING CONTEST!!

But, don’t worry!  You won’t have to deal with the huge MESS of creating an original pumpkin MASTERPIECE!

YOU get to do the FUN part and PICK the WINNING PUMPKIN!

To get started, click on the pumpkin image below and read the instructions!

Don’t forget to tell us your favorite pumpkin in the comments section.