Dork Diaries 12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Dork Diaries 12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe Book Poster Image
Crushes and middle school drama continue in popular series.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 23 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the importance of honesty and the harm that online bullying can do to relationships. 

Positive Messages

The importance of honesty in friendship takes center stage in this book as Nikki struggles with how to tell friends their summer plans have to change. She learns that waiting to tell the truth only makes things much harder and complicated in the end. While Nikki wanted to spare her friends' feelings, not being forthcoming hurt them more.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nikki's friends are positive influences. Throughout the book they're supportive, cautious when they see her behaving differently, protective when things get dicey with her new friend, who may not have her best interest at heart.


Two boys like one girl and she briefly fantasizes about them fighting over her with swords as in medieval times. A girl wishes she could smack a girl in the face with a chair for being mean.


Standard middle school crush issues throughout and angst over relationships. Some jealousy with two boys liking the same girl, along with the tension and hurt feelings that creates.


Mild name-calling including "butt ugly," "two-faced," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parent need to know that Dork Diaries 12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe deals with typical middle school issues in the lighthearted, dramatic, and funny way readers expect from this series. Parents should be ready to talk about honesty in friendship, cyberbullying, and typical middle school crush issues. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDetention master May 29, 2020

Its rlly good.

It's really good and other people are wrong with it. personally I like these teen diary books but that's just my opinion. Great role models.
Parent of an infant, 3, and 8-year-old Written byJanet P. December 29, 2017


Sweets hated Andre and had really no interest in the rest of the book. Rachel Renee Russell needs to come up with something good, we hate Max Crumbly too. Pleas... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 13, 2018

Don’t Bother reading it

Ok, first of all, Nikki is exactly like MacKenzie. She’s snobby, bratty and whines about everything. I don’t like how this book writes as if teenage girls are o... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bynavidadcherry July 17, 2020

Horrible Role Model Diaries 12: Tales From a Not-So Empowering Female Figure

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I used to like this when I was 8 or 9, but now an actual teen, I find it bland, inaccurate, and stereotypical. He... Continue reading

What's the story?

Nikki is back in TALES FROM A NOT-SO-SECRET CRUSH CATASTROPHE, and her crush life is heating up with Brandon. But MacKenzie is never far behind, with terrible tricks aimed at ruining Nikki's friendship with Brandon. This time she takes her cruel fun to the internet. While Nikki battles internet trolls, a new school exchange student is making things fun and a tad more difficult than Nikki had hoped. On top of all that, she's got a big secret that may ruin her friends' plans for summer. Gosh, will Nikki overcome all of this D-R-A-M-A, or will she fall flat on her dork bottom?

Is it any good?

Kids who love the Dork Diaries series will love this installment. Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe has all of the characters, funny angst, cool illustrations, and Nikki-related fun that readers have come to expect from the series. The book does a great job focusing on the friendship aspect of young crushes instead of going ultra intense like many other books in this genre. Book 12 shows continued evolution and maturity on Nikki's part, though MacKenzie seems to have forgotten all of the lessons she learned in the last book. Funny and easy to read, this book will delight fans eager to see where the drama with Brandon leads.

Bonuses: Parents and educators will get an opening to talk about cyberbullying, and the series continues to be great for reluctant readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the cyberbullying in Dork Diaries 12: Tales from a Not-So-Secret Crush Catastrophe. Have you experienced cyberbullying? What did you do about it, whom did you talk to? Have you seen any news stories about cyberbullying? 

  • In the story, Nikki withholds information from her friends in order to not hurt them. What could she have done instead? How do you handle tough situations with friends?

  • Do you think Nikki and Brandon's relationship is typical of middle school? What do they get right in their friendship? What could they do better?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love middle school and friendship stories

Themes & Topics

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