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We rely on advertising to help fund our award-winning journalism. But a materialistic, often mean narrator makes for a muddled message.
Brandon, a side character, is the best role model in the story because he is true to himself, doesn't follow the crowd, and is kind, helpful, and thoughtful. Chloe and Zoe are good friends to Nikki, working hard to make Nikki feel good and to help her win the art contest. Nikki does ultimately earn attention for being her dorky self -- but readers may be too turned off by her product name-dropping and popularity obsession to really care. Plenty of boy-talk. Nikki and her friends rate boys on a "cuteness-scale," read Tyra Banks's magazine for advice on getting boys to notice them, and believe boys love girls who wear makeup, especially lip gloss.
Parents need to know that this Wimpy Kid -like book is filled with references to pop culture, including fashion labels and designers, celebrities, TV shows, food products, makeup, and magazines. While some side characters prove to be good friends, the main character, Nikki, is fairly shallow, dramatic, and self-centered.
The blend of short text with illustrations may make this book appealing to reluctant readers. Parents could use it to talk about popularity and materialism with their kids.
Add your rating See all 31 parent reviews. Add your rating See all kid reviews. When Nikki Maxwell starts eighth grade at a new school, her mother gives her a diary, Nikki would rather have a new iPhone so she can impress her schoolmates, but instead, she begins to chronicle her life through words and drawings. Readers learn about Nikki's irritating little sister, her crush on Brandon, her friends Chloe and Zoey, the popular mean girl, MacKenzie, and her tattoo art project for the art competition. The book does not follow one particular plotline, but instead, meanders through the daily life dramas of angst-ridden Nikki.
It does culminate with some exciting developments -- both at the art show and with her heartthrob science lab partner. While some kids may find Nikki's daily dramas humorous, her obsession with fashion, tech gadgets, pop stars, TV, and makeup make her come across as shallow. Even at the book's end, it is hard to know what is actually likable about Nikki. Other characters remain stereotypes: the jocks, the mean, popular blond girls, the irritating little sister, the embarrassing parents, the dorky good friends, the one honest guy.
Reluctant readers may appreciate the relatively short chapters interspersed with drawings -- and the book may provide short-term light enjoyment for some tweens. But is not likely to leave a meaningful or lasting impression. Families can talk about popularity. What makes a person popular? How do material things -- like the iPhone Nikki wants -- impact status? What do you think about the book's title?
Why do we often hear stories told by outsiders, like dorks and wimpy kids? What can their stories teach us? Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners. See how we rate. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support. Our ratings are based on child development best practices.
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