Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russell

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
346 pages

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Grateful Ice Princess is notable for Nikki Maxwell's maturation and her moments of selflessness despite the humiliation she'd potentially have to endure. In the fourth book in the Dork Diaries series Nikki panics over an upcoming charity show called Holiday on Ice. The show donates $3,000 to any charity of the participant's choice. Nikki is in a group with Chloe and Zoey who are excellent skaters, but she can barely move without falling flat on her butt. The charity show is very important to Nikki because she accidently finds out that her the animal shelter that her crush Brandon volunteers at will have to close down if they do not receive financial support. Nikki and her friends sign up to skate for Fuzzy Friends in order to keep it open.

Nikki volunteers to help Brandon at Fuzzy Friends afterschool one day and she is absolutely smitten by Brandon's dedication and care for the animals. When Nikki discovers that Brandon's grandmother is the owner of the animal shelter and that they would have to move because his grandfather wouldn't be able to operate the shelter due to an injury, she decides to skate for her friend and for the shelter. Nikki feels overwhelmed by this decision after several disastrous practice skating sessions nearly convince her to give up. But she perseveres after Brandon's grandmother gives her a thank you gift for skating  in the charity show for Fuzzy Friends. Before the big show Nikki has to deal with her parents and her little sister Brianna's shenanigans over winter break.

When Nikki and her family attend The Nutcracker Prince play wearing matching tacky homemade outfits Brianna nearly ruins the whole performance by getting onstage to see if any of the desserts in the play are real. However the audience sees the whole thing as a comedy and laughs at the disaster Brianna causes. After all her frustration over the holidays Nikki starts to see the humor in her family life too, revealing "I have to admit... Once you get used to them, having a family to hang out with can be kind of nice." She even gives Brianna her expensive chocolate cupcake to make up for her disappointment with the desserts on stage and wisely reflects "But most important, I discovered that giving away something you cherish to someone you love can actually make you happier than keeping it." Nikki's growth over the winter break prepare her for the turmoil that ensues before the charity show.

The Holiday on Ice Show is directed by world famous skater Victoria Steel who threatens to kick terrible skaters out of the show. Nikki is spared from this treatment by clever distractions from Brandon and Brianna during each of her practice attempts to perform with her group. On the day of the big show, Chloe, Zoey and Nikki are ecstatic when they get beautiful fairy costumes for their skating performance. After the girls return from their manicure and pedicure trip they are heartbroken when they see that their outfits are replaced with clown costumes. Somehow their fairy costumes were shipped back to New York with the extras. Nikki suspects her arch nemesis Mackenzie is behind it, but she has no proof. They decide to wear the clown costumes and put on a great performance for Fuzzy Friends. When they go to their dressing room to get their skates they see a note from the wardrobe manager telling them that their fairy costumes are in Locker 17 at Storage Area C. When they go in Locker 17 someone shuts the door behind them and locks them in. They use Chloe's dying cell phone to call their parents, but no one picks up. Nikki tells Chloe to call her number because she suspects Brianna is using it to play games on it without permission. Brianna answers Nikki's phone and they quickly tell her where to find them. Brianna and Brandon rescue them from the locker.

During the show, Chloe, Zoey, and Nikki wear the clown costumes. Nikki falls on her butt and slides across the ice. She thinks she's ruined everything, but it turns out the audience is laughing and cheering because they think it's part of their clown act. After that, Nikki skates perfectly and only falls on purpose to make the crowd laugh. After the show ended the director awarded Fuzzy Friends with an additional $10,000 prize money because Nikki, Chloe, and Zoey were chosen as crowd favorites. Nikki is elated that she was able to contribute to keeping Fuzzy Friends open and helping Brandon out. Brandon gives Nikki flowers and tells her thank you. When he gives her a big hug she wonders what the hug meant--if it was a friendly hug or something more. Then she thinks that she wouldn't want Brandon to know why she was thinking that and happily calls herself a dork.

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