Dork Diaries 2: Tales from a NOT-SO-Popular Party Girl

Book review by
Kristen Breck, Common Sense Media
Dork Diaries 2: Tales from a NOT-SO-Popular Party Girl Book Poster Image
Protagonist shows more depth here, but still pretty shallow.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 28 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Reluctant readers may enjoy the format -- short chapters and illustrations interspersed throughout the story.

Positive Messages

Nikki's consumed with popularity and materialism, but she does show some growth in this installment -- and she learns basic lessons about honesty and how to be a better friend.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nikki tries not to disappoint her friends, takes a job working at a birthday party, and pulls together the school Halloween dance. But she still cares too much about materialistic things and what other people think. Plus she lies to her parents, is constantly rude to her little sister, and makes bad decisions. Chloe and Zoe are loyal and helpful to Nikki, and they think creatively. Brandon's a positive role model because he stands up to MacKenzie, follows his own ideas, and shows compassion and understanding.   


MacKenzie and her best friend, Jessica, are verbally cruel to Nikki, calling her names and making derogatory remarks. Jessica smashes a plate of chocolate into Nikki's face and ruins her new dress.


There's no sex or kissing, but there is lots of boy talk and trying to impress boys with fashion and lip gloss.  MacKenzie buys lip gloss just for Brandon.


"Crud," "craptastic," "sheesh," plus slang like, "OMG," "CCP" (Cute, cool, and popular), "BFF."


As in the first Dork Diaries book, this one is filled with product labels and pop-culture references. Just a few include:  Skechers, Justin Bieber, Fruity Pebbles, Barbie DreamHouse, SpongeBob SquarePants, YouTube, MTV, America's Top Next Model, Tyra Banks, My Super Sweet 16, Starbucks, Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, Tickle Me Elmo, Mr. Bubbles, Lysol, Darth Vader, eBay, iTunes, Beyonce, Disney World, Jessica Simpson, Blackberry, Dolce & Gabbana, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book, like the Dork Diaries series starter, Tales of a NOT-SO-Fabulous Life, is filled with references to pop culture and material goods, including celebrities, designer clothing, tech gadgets, makeup, TV, etc.  This Wimpy Kid-like book may draw in kids who like the first book, as well as reluctant readers, but they may grow tired of the self-absorbed, materialistic protagonist.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant and 4-year-old Written byThe Mom who bakes July 26, 2016

Dork Diaries...

My kids love these books. I have 9yo twins, a 10yo, and a 12yo. They all read these (When I buy one I have 4 copies) and put them on Christmas Wish Lists.

My 6... Continue reading
Parent Written byDonutGIRL July 24, 2016

It's okay...

I like how supportive Chloe and Zoey are, but there are some things that I can't stand:

1) Mackenzie. Who steals someone's duffel bag? So wrong.

2)... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 30, 2016

The kind of book a girl will like

A middle school girl who's name is nikki is helping out to clean up at her schools halloween dance. There is a club were more kids are also cleaning up at... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 25, 2013

Reluctant Readers

My friend likes these books but I personally find them for ONLY reluctant readers because of the short chapters and illustrations. It really just depends on tas... Continue reading

What's the story?

This book leaves off one day after the first book ends, just after Brandon asks Nikki to be his science lab partner. This volume focuses on the Halloween dance, which happens to be the same night Nikki has promised to work at a ballet party hosted by her little sister's friend. Readers will recognize the cast of characters here, including mean girl MacKenzie, who is in charge of the dance. When MacKenzie suddenly resigns from her job, the Halloween dance might get cancelled -- and if MacKenzie's plan works, the entire school will blame Nikki. Can Nikki and her friends figure out a way for the dance to go on? And can Nikki juggle going to the dance with her friends, secretly being Brandon's date -- and fulfilling her promise to work at the ballet party?

Is it any good?

The protagonist in this latest installment in the series continues to be dramatic, self-absorbed, and popularity-obsessed, but she does show some growth here. Nikki has a fleeting moment of compassion for her little sister when she freezes on stage, shows leadership by organizing the school dance -- and learns basic lessons about honesty and how to be a better friend when her best buddies discover her multiple commitments on the night of the dance. Even so, readers will have a hard time finding a character to relate to. Nikki overreacts to everything, and her "woe is me" attitude, constant irritation with her little sister, and flighty decision-making quickly grow tiring. Meanwhile, her nemesis MacKenzie remains a stereotypical enemy. Readers may find this book easy to read -- but other illustrated novels, like The Popularity Papers, will get them thinking deeper about themes like fitting in and friendship.





Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about self-image. Nikki's extremely self-degrading, calling herself "loser, "dork," and "pathetic."  Is this something you hear your friends doing a lot? Does Nikki really mean what she says about herself -- or is she saying something else?

  • Lots of books, movies, and television shows talk about kids wanting to be popular. What are some other titles you can think of?

  • Do you think the media typically reflects how kids actually feel about the pressure to fit in -- or does it promote a shallow kind of popularity?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels

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