Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All

Posted December 10, 2012 by Tara in Review /// 6 Comments

dork diaries 5

Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All
By Renee Russell
Narrated by Jenni Barber
3 hours, 36 minutes
Simon and Schuster
Audio book for review from publisher
[#69 in my 75 book challenge]

After the great toilet paper caper, where she was caught red-handed toilet papering McKenzie’s house, Nikki Maxwell is concerned with the consequences of her actions. In the midst of all her self-created drama, Nikki is also trying to win over her crush, Brandon, and secure a spot on the middle school newspaper. She gets her spot, but it’s not what she expects! Nikki Maxwell is about to become Miss Know-It-All, the school advice columnist. How can she solve everyone else’s problems when she can barely solve her own?

Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All is the fifth installment in the Dork Diaries series. Nikki Maxwell is a likable character dealing with middle school dramas like crushes, popularity, her parents, wacky teachers, and discovering her talents. The novel is typical middle grades fare. Fun, fluffy, and teaching a few little lessons along the way.

Notes on the audio book: Though the audio obviously lacks the fun cartoons and drawings of this novel, it is definitely geared toward the kids audience. Jenni Barber does the thirteen-year-old girl “OMG!” narration quite well. I think the best use for the audio copy would be for use with the print text to help kids build fluency and comprehension. (For more information on using audiobooks with struggling readers, click here.)

FINAL GRADE:  B My rating of a B here is more of a professional/objective rating than a personal one. I can’t really say I picked this book up because I love middle grades cartoon novel. However, it surprised me. While Greg Heffley in Diary of  Wimpy Kid drove me crazy with his bad attitude, Nikki Maxwell actually has a conscious and a brain. I appreciated that. The audience is definitely elementary/middle school, and you could feel comfortable adding this PG novel (and the rest of the series) to your library collection.

Have you read any of the cartoon novel genre? What do you think of this format?


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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6 responses to “Dork Diaries 5: Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All

  1. I’m so glad I found you! Your blog is a smart and witty gem, and your insights and humor are the balm to this story loving mom’s heart with a 9 year old reluctant reader. How did you guess? Why yes, said child is a boy. A wild bike riding, soccer playing, prankster, goofball, who often treats reading the same way I treat scrubbing the toilets – with abject disgust and resentment. Ours is a house filled with books, even a varied supply next to the aforementioned toilets – after all, one must be prepared for any emergency. My husband and I are voracious readers with piles of books on each of our nightstands, and we are often “caught”, by our children reading in the kitchen after having told them, “Sure, I’ll come look at that Lego castle as soon as I’m done doing what I have to get done in here.” We even have a special antique table topped with my grandfather’s vintage Remington on which he wrote his published books that also hold special court along with the dusty typewriter. It is both sad and perplexing to watch my son wipe his furrowed brow as he is most assuredly humming, “No one knows the trouble I’ve seen” in his head as he struggles to read for his “Read & Respond” homework assignments. His phonics are A+, but when asked why he doesn’t want to read, he responds quite matter-of-factly, “I’m just not interested”. Heartbreaking. Last year he develop a liking for The Box Car Children and The Magic School Bus. Although I am grateful for that, I admit I am moved to tears when I often happen upon him reading this year. No longer is he only reading during “after school reading time”, but I find him reading during his “off” hours. When I stumble upon these scenes which are more than once a day now, I slowly and quietly get my camera, then hide behind the closest large object, and peak over the side and snap a photo. It’s like trying to capture the beauty of a baby deer on your front lawn nibbling on your grass. You don’t want them to know you’re watching lest they run away and the magical moment is gone. Now, the punchline to this long comment is that what he is reading so voraciously, what he drags into the van and smuggles into church, is anything by Pilky, and Yes, Kinney’s Diary of a Whimpy Kid series. I’d prefer Huckleberry Finn, The Chronicles of Narnia, or the Wrinkle in Time series, but as I gently suggest these and others like it he still responds with, “I’m not interested”, and then goes on to reenact a goofy scene from Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopy Pants. Although it may not be my top choice of literature for him, I have given in and embraced the fact that he has finally found something he is interested in. My hope is that in time, he will accept my gentle recommendations to try out Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and discover how interesting other forms of literature can be. Your thoughts? Ilene

    • Tara

      I think you already have your answer — these silly Captain Underpants/Diary of a Wimpy kid books can serve as “gateway” books to other things. Harry Potter is often a great gateway to books like The Chronicles of Narnia. You could also start with reading aloud to get him hooked on the series. Otherwise, I think you are wise to let him make his own choices, even if the books aren’t the ones you’d like him to be reading. I’m just now discovering a lot of the classics myself, since I only read The Babysitters Club as a kid!

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