Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dear Dumb Diary Series, Year Two

Jamie Kelly might be my middle school alter ego, and not just because of our last names. She hates math, believes more food should be served in stacks, has a snarky sense of humor, and would die if anyone read her diary. Let's face it, she could be my alter ego today. After twelve books, each following a month in her life, Jim Benton's hilarious middle schooler is back and fired up. 

Jamie can't believe she has to go back to school and deal with things like vocabulary bees, perfect girls who somehow make glasses look adorable, and the possibility of summer school. She handles all of her life's crises with humor that had me giggling. Benton has a gift for writing Jamie's voice exactly like the girl you'd want sitting next to you in class, whispering terrible comments. Some gems include, "Teachers have the very difficult job of teaching dumb things to even dumber people" and telling her mom, "I love it when you use my middle name...let's use it all the time." 

The Dear Dumb Diary books are extremely popular, so most readers won't be starting the series with this volume. If they did, they would not miss out on any of the jokes and would probably be motivated to catch up with the previous 12 books. This book is perfect for your humor-loving middle grade student.

Jamie Kelly is back, and this month she is focusing on manners. Of course, in Jamie's writing, that looks like, "You are cordially invited to stop reading my diary. If you can't accept that invitation, I'd like to offer you an invitation to the emergency room." When the handsome lunchroom monitor (!) sits with them at lunch, and the kids start to get crushes on each other, Jamie's crew decides to start having better manners. This is easier for some than others, but always funny to experience.

It's Jim Benton's little details that make the DUMB DIARY series a pleasure to follow. This includes Jamie's dream of six-inch thick Pop Tarts, her medical condition known as "blonde intolerance", and the idea of addressing someone who has been married twice as Mrsrs. My favorite is Jamie's fantasies is bumper stickers as literature. They are sprinkled throughout the book and are really just summaries of movies, such as this gem: "Find a golden ticket and win a prize. Not really. Just kidding, you do." 

Fans of the series will love this addition and be eager to see what topics Jamie tackles next.

Check out these reviews and more at Young Adult Books Central.

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