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Literature / Dork Diaries

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Dork Diaries is a series of children's books by Rachel Renee Russell. They follow the misadventures of Nikki J. Maxwell, a slightly bratty and shallow but still well-meaning and likable fourteen year old girl. The story begins when Nikki's family moves because of her father's job, and Nikki is transferred to Westchester Country Day, a private school that is much too fancy for Nikki's tastes. There, she meets Alpha Bitch MacKenzie Hollister, Chloe Garcia and Zoey Franklin (unpopular but awesome new friends), and Brandon Roberts (Nikki's crush, MacKenzie's crush, and overall Nice Guy).

There are 14 books so far, as well as two companions.

  • Book One: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life
  • Book Two: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl
  • Book Three: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star
  • Book Three and a Half: How to Dork Your Diary
  • Book Four: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess
  • Book Five: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All
  • Book Six: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker
  • Book OMG: Dork Diaries: All About Me Diary!
  • Book Seven: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star
  • Book Eight: Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Happily Ever After
  • Book Nine: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-so-Dorky Drama Queen
  • Book Ten: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Perfect Pet Sitter
  • Book Eleven: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Friendly Frenemy
  • Book Twelve: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe
  • Book Thirteen: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday
  • Book Fourteen: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Best Friend Forever
  • Book Fifteen: Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure (to be released)

In 2016, a Spin-Off series, The Misadventures of Max Crumbly, was launched, focusing on a character which debuted in Tales from a Not-so-Perfect Pet Sitter.

In 2015, it was announced that a live-action film adaptation of the books was in the works at Summit Entertainment. However, with minimal updates since, the movie appears to either be in Development Hell and may have been cancelled.

Now features a characters page. Feel free to contribute.

For other children's book series in a diary format, see Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dear Dumb Diary.

Tales from a Not-So-Well Troper (Dork Diaries):

  • Aesop Amnesia: Despite the fact that Nikki, at the end of each story, learns that she should be proud for being a dork, the next book will always start with her being ashamed of it.
  • All Part of the Show: In the fourth book, Nikki could never learn how to ice skate, and keeps falling over. She still has this problem by the time they perform their ice skating routine, but by then their outfits were switched and they're dressed as clowns, so the crowd thinks Nikki is doing it on purpose and finds it funny.
  • Almost Kiss: Happens twice between Nikki and Brandon. They get interrupted by MacKenzie both times. They do get a real kiss between those two scenes though.
  • Animesque: Nikki is an artist who draws pictures in manga-esque style and stick figure style.
  • April Fools' Plot: Once Upon a Dork is a invokedBizarro Episode in which Nikki wakes up in the fairy-tale world. In real life, the whole thing takes place on April first.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Used a lot. A notable example is the scene where Nikki has to do a book report about Moby-Dick and finds the novel extremely boring. She proceeds to list off things she'd rather do than read it: clean the entire house with a toothbrush, brush her teeth with the toothbrush she cleaned the house with, visit her neighbor lady for a detailed update on her bunion surgery, and hang out with Brianna. Her reaction: "HANG OUT WITH BRIANNA?! OMG! I can't believe I just wrote that!"
  • Art Shift: Nikki switches between her usual Animesque style and stick figure style repeatedly.
    • Majorly in the Hostile Show Takeover, Tales from a Not-so-Dorky Drama Queen, since MacKenzie's drawing style is different from and more realistic than Nikki's.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Tales From A Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen" for MacKenzie.
  • Beta Bitch: Jessica is this to Mackenzie.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Nikki and Brandon have this in Tales from the Not-So-Glam TV Star
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Japanese, "Nikki" means "diary".
  • Birthday Episode: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday takes place on Nikki's 15th birthday.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Tic Toc Breath Mints", which show up in a few illustrations. It's normally averted though - the series doesn't have a problem using the names of real-life brands and companies.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Nikki puts out a burning toaster by pouring orange juice over it. In the third book, her mom shops for a new toaster and Brianna comments that "Some idiot poured orange juice into our old [toaster] and it exploded and blew up our house. KABOOM!"
    • Nikki's "fairy repellent" from Tales From a Not-So-Popular Party Girl turns up again when her dad finds it 5 books later in Tales From a Not-So-Glam TV Star and she doesn't recognize it at first.
    • In Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker, when Nikki shows up to swim class with a float toy, she mentions that there's no rule against float toys in the pool, listing the rules: "1. No running! 2. No eating! 3. No horseplay! 4. No peeing in the pool!" When she mentions the rules again many chapters later, one more has been added: "5. No float toys!"
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Chloe and Zoey are always quick to tell Nikki when her plans or ideas kind of suck.
    • Subverted by Nikki as she often says something brutally honest, and then admits "but I just said that inside my head, so no one heard it but me."
  • Buffy Speak: Nikki engages in this a lot. For example, in Tales from a Not-So Happy Heartbreaker, she refers to the seahorse swim tube as a "seahorse float thingy".
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: The Princess Sugar Plum franchise is this In-Universe. The amounts of merch it gets are ridiculous, and Princess Sugar Plum valentines are sold out everywhere, except for the grocery store. This might serve as a Take That! to big franchises and consumerism.
  • Catchphrase:
  • Character Blog: The official site contains an online "diary" by Nikki serving as an announcement blog, as well as ask columns run by Nikki and Brandon.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Nearly the entire cast to varying degrees. Brianna is a neverending source of wacky ideas and plans, Chloe and Zoey's Zany Schemes can become quite over-the-top at times, Theo believes Hogwarts is real, and so on. Mr. Zimmerman from Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All deserves special mention for being completely scatterbrained, absent-minded, and very, very eccentric.
  • Comic Trio: Chloe or Zoey comes up with the insane/stupid plans, the other one agrees, and Nikki is left wondering whether or not she's flypaper for freaks.
  • Cool Old Lady: Nikki's grandma, who makes the inspiring "You can be a CHICKEN or a CHAMPION" line, would likely win a lot at The Price Is Right, and can dance pretty well.
  • A Day in the Limelight: MacKenzie steals Nikki's diary in Tales from a Not-so-Dorky Drama Queen and writes in it, allowing us a glimpse into her life.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the fourth book, Mackenzie switches Nikki and her friends pretty outfits for the ice skating competition out for clown costumes. She also knows Nikki has problems not falling on the ice. Because of this, once Nikki goes on the ice dressed in her clown costume and falls, the audience thinks she's doing it on purpose and loves it and they win the competition.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The series is a somewhat obvious one to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, from both the main characters getting into predicaments and such right down to the non-canonical do-it-yourself installment between books 3 and 4.
  • Drama Queen: Nikki tends to act pretty overdramatic at times. The same thing goes with Mackenzie, who is an even bigger drama queen than Nikki.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The drawings in the first two books are more realistic than the proceeding ones.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Nikki is a loner and sits by herself during lunch before she meets Zoey and Chloe in gym class.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Nikki is a cutesy girl ashamed of being a dork, even when she's taught to be proud of it. Her little sister Brianna doesn't care that she has it. MacKenzie claims to be a CCP (cute, cool, popular) socialite while messing with Nikki for being a new student.
  • Establishing Character Moment: MacKenzie's first appearance has a path immediately clearing for her as people shout out compliments to her.
  • Evil Laugh: MacKenzie is often described as cackling like a witch.
  • Eye Pop: Nikki's eyes fly out of their sockets when she imagines she'll get to meet-and-greet the hottest boy bands in the universe.
  • Fake Tears: Nikki pictures MacKenzie's PHONY friends crying PHONY tears when they hear about MacKenzie handing out invitations to her birthday party.
  • Fairy Tale Episode: The eighth book is about Nikki being trapped in a fairy tale world, with the roles being played by people she knows.
  • Fever Dream Episode: The majority of Once Upon a Dork (Book 8) is Nikki experiencing a bizarre dream after getting hit in the head and knocked out by a dodgeball.
  • Fooled by the Sound: In one book, Mrs. Wallabanger crosses the road, unaware that a huge truck is coming towards her. The truck honks its horn for her to get out of the way, but due to her deafness, she mistakes it for a goose.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Book nine has MacKenzie stealing Nikki's diary, with most of the book being told from her perspective.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Book 8 as a whole, which originates from a teacher inspiring the class to rewrite fairy tales with personal twists.
  • Genki Girl: Nikki, Chloe, and Zoey are all this, but mostly Chloe.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Both Nikki and Brianna wear their hair like this, and they're both pretty girly.
  • Girl Posse: MacKenzie has a group of avid followers, the most prominent member being her best friend Jessica.
  • Growling Gut: Nikki gets this at one point in "Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe" since she skipped breakfast.
  • Gym Class Hell: Most of the awkward, embarrassing or frustrating moments that happen to Nikki in class are in gym class, from being Picked Last to failing at ice skating, having to deal with a Small Name, Big Ego karate teacher, or almost drowning in four feet of water.
  • Happy Dance: Nikki does the "Snoopy happy dance" when she's pleased.
  • High-School Dance: The entire plot of Not So Popular Party Girl revolves around two of them (MacKenzie's birthday party and the school Halloween dance), as well as an elementary school dance (Brianna's ballet class Halloween party).
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Sometimes Nikki makes hypocritical remarks in her diary, but she is quick to admit them.
    • When she first got her diary, she made her first entry and then swore she'll never write in it again. The next day she started writing in it again and admitted the irony.
    • When Nikki tried to sign for an art competition at school, she hid behind a plant and spied on Mackenzie, who also wanted to sign in and denied it being spying. After Mackenzie left and Nikki signed for the competition, she saw Mackenzie spying on her and got angry because of it. However, Nikki quickly admits that she did indeed spy on Mackenzie, but unlike Mackenzie, who wanted to stop Nikki from entering the competition, Nikki just wanted to avoid Mackenzie.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: In the ninth book, thanks to MacKenzie stealing Nikki's diary and writing in it for some time.
  • Imagine Spot: The series is chock-full of them. They range from Nikki imagining MacKenzie as a literal ice or drama queen to Brandon being abducted by aliens.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!:
    • MacKenzie films Nikki and Brianna singing the Queasy Cheesy song and puts the video on YouTube in the third book. She doesn't tell people about it though... at first.
    • In the ninth book, an embarrassing video is made of MacKenzie and spread around the school. She's the one who puts it on YouTube herself to convince her parents that she's being bullied so they allow her to transfer schools.
  • Meaningful Name: Nikki is Japanese for diary. The art style is Animesque. (It might not even have been done on purpose though, as Nikki also shares a name with the author's daughter and might have been named after her.)
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Chloe and Zoey are both huge nerds and both are very cute.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: In Tales from a Not-So Happy Heartbreaker, Nikki wears her grandma's old swimsuit to swimming class. Her classmates are shocked by this and MacKenzie looks up and down, signaling that she had never seen a swimsuit with legs before.
  • Only Sane Man: Nikki is the most normal of her trio, but Brandon is by far the most normal character of them all.
  • Out-Gambitted: The plot of Pop Star is basically MacKenzie playing mind games with Nikki. MacKenzie sends Nikki a fake tuition bill, expecting her to horribly messed up herself, her friends, and her family, so she's forced to take up a talent contest to fix the problems, just then MacKenzie can ultimately humiliate her at the most crucial moment.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Tiffany is completely obsessed with selfies and cell phones, and uses them to bully people.
  • Popular Is Dumb: MacKenzie is smart enough, but Jessica (a popular girl who is a best friend to the school's Alpha Bitch) isn't all that bright.
  • Potty Dance: The accompanying illustration for the below-mentioned Potty Emergency features Brianna performing a frantic one.
  • Potty Emergency: The first book features a scene where Nikki and Brianna are forced to accompany their father out on a job. While they are waiting in the truck, Brianna suddenly needs to pee, and so they get down and ask the owner of the house being worked on if she can use their bathroom. The downstairs bathroom is in use, so Brianna is forced to use an upstairs bathroom connected to a bedroom, leading to a startling discovery by Nikki: This is MacKenzie's house, and they are in MacKenzie's bedroom, where she can walk in at any moment. Nikki begins banging at the door to get Brianna to hurry up so they can make a quick getaway.
  • Potty Failure: Once again, Brianna in the first book. Nikki states her annoyance at having to manage Brianna's Tooth Fairy related Nighttime Bathroom Phobia, where Brianna will come into her room in the middle of the night to ask Nikki to come with her to the bathroom. If Nikki isn't fast enough, Brianna will leave "accident" puddles on her bedroom carpet, as depicted in Nikki's first drawing of Brianna. This is implied to be a regular occurrence...
  • Reactive Continuous Scream: This happens in "Tales From a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-it-All", when Mackenzie discovers Nikki, Chloe, and Zoey hiding in the bushes, preparing to toilet paper her house.
  • Recycled In Space: Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls!
  • Running Gag:
    • MacKenzie "sashaying" away, and Nikki then commenting on how much she hates that.
    • Nikki getting mad and telling people what she thinks of them... only to reveal that she just said it all inside her head. This gets less frequent as the story goes on.
    • Chloe and Zoey spying on Nikki and Brandon, especially when they have a moment in the library.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Brandon, who is the photographer for the school newspaper.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Nikki mentions that she feels beautiful when she wears the Juliet costume for the Halloween dance.
    • Nikki almost says this word for word about... her dad in a suit. She says that she barely recognized him.
  • Shout-Out: In the third book, Nikki says she often sings Don't Stop Believin' because her dad loves it, and she finds it funny how everyone loves it again "because it's on a TV show."
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Nikki falls for Brandon because he is sweet and kind.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: A longer exchange between Nikki and MacKenzie is likely to play out this way, with both of them throwing increasingly creative insults at each other as the fight goes on.
  • Spoofs "R" Us:
    • Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life has Nikki imagine herself disguised the next time she goes to a clothing store, carrying a bag from Cheap Fashions "R" Us.
    • In one book, Nikki imagines her whole family as clowns, and the illustration is topped with the caption "Clowns R Us".
  • Squee: Nikki, Chloe, and Zoey do this a lot when they're excited about something.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Nikki mentions in Tales From a Not So Talented Pop Star that she used to believe there is a clown living underneath her bed and he'd pull her underneath for all eternity when she was very little.
  • Token Trio: Nikki (who is white), Chloe (who is Hispanic), and Zoey (who is black).
  • Two-Timer Date: At the climax of the second book, Nikki tries to: hang out with Chloe and Zoey at the Halloween dance (dressed as trash bags); be Brandon's date at the Halloween dance (dressed as Juliet); and help out at Brianna's ballet class Halloween party (dressed as a giant rat). It doesn't work out very well.
  • Unspoken Retort: A Running Gag throughout the series is Nikki imagining herself saying something smart-alecky towards someone, followed by her Character Catch Phrase of "But I just said that in my head, so no one heard it but me."

Tropes found in The Misadventures of Max Crumbly