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Book Review

This slice-of-life novel by Rachel Renee Russell is the second in the " Dork Diaries" series published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division. This illustrated book is set up as if this were the narrator's diary.

Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl is written for kids ages 9 to 13 years. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Fourteen-year-old Nikki is beginning to adjust to the wealthy, prestigious Westchester County Day Middle School where she attends on scholarship. She's made friends with Chloe and Zoey, with whom she works one period a day as a library book shelver. She also has a secret crush on Brandon, the school photographer. But MacKenzie Hollister, the most popular and meanest girl in the eighth grade, has it in for Nikki. She's determined to destroy Nikki's year any way she can, starting by winning Brandon for herself.

It's only a few weeks until the Halloween dance. Chloe and Zoey convince Nikki to sign up for clean-up crew with them. The girls tell Nikki that although they're dateless, they can tell everyone the guys in the band are really their dates.

As chairperson of the dance planning committee, MacKenzie makes life difficult for Nikki and her friends. The girls finally decide to tender their resignations. In retaliation, MacKenzie quits altogether, taking the rest of the dance committee with her. She says the only way the school will have a Halloween dance is if Nikki and her friends plan it themselves. Nikki is ready to admit defeat when Brandon asks her to be his date. Brandon says MacKenzie asked him to the dance and threatened to cause problems for Nikki if he said no. Nikki is now determined not to back down. She rounds up Chloe, Zoey and a few others to pull the event together.

Nikki is offered a paying job painting faces at the ballet party of her sister, Brianna, on Halloween night. Besides the conflict with the dance, Nikki is concerned about having to wear a smelly rat costume. Nikki hasn't had the heart to tell Chloe and Zoey about her date with Brandon yet, so they're still expecting Nikki to go with them as a threesome. They've told Nikki they want to all wear garbage bag costumes. Meanwhile, Mom gives Nikki her cool Juliet costume from a play years ago. Nikki doesn't want to disappoint anyone, so she manages to schedule the dance at the same venue as the ballet party. Then she spends the evening switching from costume to costume, alternately painting faces, chatting with Chloe and Zoey and dancing with Brandon. When her friends and Brandon finally discover what she's done, she learns no one is angry with her. Chloe and Zoey just wish she'd shared her good news about her date with Brandon.

Christian Beliefs

Nikki's hiccupping at a funeral offends the eulogist. Nikki knows the speaker is a part-time church organist, so she sketches herself running into him at heaven's gate. In her diary picture, he's an admissions clerk who refuses to let her in. Nikki prays that something will go her way a few times, though it's more like a wish or hope than a prayer to God.

Other Belief Systems

Nikki says she thinks Satan's kid sister has the locker next to hers, referring to MacKenzie.

Authority Roles

Nikki's parents are present and involved in their kids' activities, though Nikki is convinced Mom makes Brianna take ballet because she (Mom) never got the opportunity. They fall for Nikki's far-fetched lie about testing bug spray for extra credit, without even questioning it. Nikki loves watching supermodel Tyra Banks and goes on about what a good role model she is for young girls. (Note: The admiration for Tyra occurs in book one, also, although Tyra's bad behavior is mentioned. It appears that the author is mocking Tyra rather than considering her a role model.)

Profanity/Violence

The words crap, heck and dang appear, along with the abbreviation OMG.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • How does Nikki get herself in a tight spot on Halloween night?
  • What is she trying to do by switching costumes repeatedly?
  • Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble by trying too hard to please other people? What happened?

  • Would you consider MacKenzie a bully? Why or why not?

  • How does Nikki respond to MacKenzie's attempts to belittle her?
  • What are some godly ways to behave when people treat you disrespectfully?

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Nikki and her friends plan to tell everyone the guys in the band at the Halloween dance are their dates. MacKenzie and her friends try to pull the same stunt. Brianna marks all over a poster at her ballet school and lies about it. Nikki has convinced Brianna the tooth fairy steals kids' teeth and uses them to make dentures for old people. Brianna's fear of the fairy causes her to bug Nikki in the middle of the night. Nikki concocts a fairy repellant and sprays it all over Brianna's room to pacify the girl. When their parents come in to see what's going on, Nikki lies and says she's testing out a new homemade bug spray for extra credit.


This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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