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Great fictional diaries for children and teens

Written by · Published Jan 3, 2017

The Diary of Dennis the Menace, Eliza Boom's Diary: my fizz-tastic investigation and I Capture The Castle

Junior novels

New Kid in School, by Ruth McNally Barshaw

“Ellie’s family is moving to a new town, and Ellie is sure she won’t fit in at school. The other kids play ‘new kid bingo’ behind her back, and even the teachers can’t seem to remember her name. But when her new classmates start complaining about long lunch lines (and bad food), Ellie jumps at the chance to lead a protest. And tackling the school canteen just might be the perfect way to make new friends!”

Ellie McDoodle is the feisty heroine of her own series of diaries dealing with familiar situations. The books are illustrated in a cartoon style and the writing is chatty, but there is thoughtful substance to these diaries.

Dear Dumb Diary: Never Do Anything, Ever, by Jim Benton

“A hilarious middle-schooler’s diary about her stinky beagle, mad best friend, disgustingly lovely rival and unrequited crush on the eighth-best-looking boy in the class.”

Jaimie records her life, loves and plans for the future in this series of 4 novels, originally published in the US, aimed at ‘tweens’. The series is like Bridget Jones for the junior market.

The Diary of Dennis the Menace, by Steven Butler

“This work takes a peek into the diary of Britain’s favourite cheeky chappie - Dennis the Menace, star of The Beano. Here readers will meet Dennis, Gnasher and friends (and enemies!) and get to explore Beanotown with Dennis as their guide.”

This is the first of a series of 6 hilarious books, written in accessible language broken up by comic illustrations. Dennis is as naughty as ever. Good thing too, even if he doesn’t like going to Beanotown Library or reading actual books.

Diary of Dorkius Maximus in Pompeii, by Tim Collins

“Dorkius is annoyed when he has to move with his family to Pompeii for the summer. He finds the people of Pompeii to be even more superstitious than his mum, and watches in disbelief as they base all their decisions around animal innards readings. Things brighten up when he meets a local boy called Fabricus who’s convinced a demon is haunting nearby Mount Vesuvius. They go off to investigate and Dorkius finds that the demonic rumbles are coming from inside the volcano itself…”

Awkward 13-year-old Dorkius Maximus lives in ancient Rome and has cleverly written through the pen of Tim Collins a “light historical caper” of a diary, complete with faux Roman dates.

Eliza Boom’s Diary: my fizz-tastic investigation, by Emily Gale & Joelle Dreidemy

“Junior spy/inventor extraordinaire, Eliza Boom, is back with a BLAST (well, more of a FIZZ actually), as she finds herself on a fizz-tastic adventure to reveal the truth about her suspicious next-door neighbour, Mary Spoon and her mysterious, humming, ‘fizz-buzzing’ house. Will Eliza’s inventing super-skills have enough fizz to save the day?”

Eliza Bloom is a rip-roaring tomboy and her diaries are a light fun read. This is the second book in the series.

Pippa Morgan’s Diary, by Annie Kelsey

“A small girl with a big imagination. Life is not going well for 10-year-old Pippa Morgan. Her best friend has moved away and her parents are getting divorced. Then she accidentally signs up to a school talent show - but her singing sounds like a cat being strangled. Will things ever get better for Pippa? You’ll have to read her diary to find out!”

10-year-old Pippa starts a diary to fill a gap in her life when her best friend moves away. A very readable diary, dealing with some of the common issues for ‘tweens’.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney

“Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into a new year and a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Greg is happy to have his sidekick, Rowley, along for the ride. When Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s popularity to his own advantage.”

Probably the fastest selling fictional diaries of all time, the 11th title Double Down was published in 2016. I’d take a bet that number 12 will be published in 2017.

Badly Drawn Beth, by Knife & Packer

“So, I’m surrounded by crocodiles, holding a briefcase full of fish fingers, I’m wearing a swamp monster mask and Miss Primula is about to call my parents! Meet Beth - and all of her fantastically crazy family and friends - and be prepared to laugh your socks off! A hilarious new diary series from the creators of Fleabag Monkeyface.”

Doodley style and amusing, there are 2 other titles available in the Badly Drawn Beth series: Happy Bethday! and The Show Must Go On!.

How To Update Your Parents, by Pete Johnson

This piece of comic genius follows on from the equally brilliant How To Train Your Parents, My Parents Are Out Of Control and My Parents Are Driving Me Crazy. More substantial than most of the diaries on this list, they are simply superb and should, in my view, be issued to every child at their 9th birthday so they learn how to manoeuvre the next few tricky years. And because this will give them plenty of time to enjoy them before they get grow past such things at around 12/13 years old.

Stuntboy, by Ciaran Murtagh & Tim Wesson

At the age of 12, Fin Spencer discovers that he has an amazing superpower; he can change events in his life by rewriting then. This is another illustrated series, this time aimed at early-secondary age children. The series, called Fincredible diary of Fin Spencer, might be a good follow-on for fans of Tom Gates.

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, by Liz Pinchon

“All Tom Gates wants to do is get tickets to see his favourite band when they come to town. It’s not easy when he’s up against Delia, his weirdo big sister. All of his plans seem to get him into major trouble!”

The Tom Gates diaries have between them notched up thousands of loans from Suffolk Libraries. It’s great to have a series that is homegrown rather than from the US.

Pirate Diary: the journal of Jake Carpenter, by Richard Platt & Chris Riddell

“Starting in 1716, this book describes the adventures of nine-year-old Jake. When pirates capture his ship, Jake finds himself embarking on a new life, on the wrong side of the law.”

This book is packed with pirate facts and illustrated by Chris Riddell – can’t be bad!

Dork Diaries: Frenemies Forever, by Rachel Renée Russell

“Adorkable Nikki Maxwell is being sent on a school exchange. Cool, right? Errrm, no! Because guess who got sent there two weeks ago? Her arch nemesis and long-time frenemy, MacKenzie Hollister. Thanks to her, Nikki’s life has been a complete dramafest. Will the Queen of Dorks survive the exchange, or will it be a dorky disaster?”

The Dork Diaries are light, entertaining and perfectly aimed at the ‘tween’ market. This is the 11th and most recent title in the series.

Polly Price’s Totally Secret Diary: Mum in Love, by Dee Shulman

“I had been looking forward to going to France in the Easter holidays for weeks. Admittedly it meant going with Mum and her French boyfriend, Almond. But what could possibly go wrong?”

This is the third title in the Polly Price’s Totally Secret Diary series, aimed at late primary/early secondary-age children.

The Seriously Extraordinary Diary of Pig, by Emer Stamp

“Duck, Cow and all the Sheep are far away from their Farm and beloved Vegetarian Farmers. They have unbelievable adventures, illustrated throughout and printed in a unique diary format.”

This is the first of a series of very easy to read diaries, written to appeal to boys and girls alike.

Little Wolf’s Diary of Daring Deeds, by Ian Whybrow & Tony Ross

“Now Little Wolf is fabulously rich and the owner of Cunning College, he decides to change it into Adventure Academy. The builders are in and Little Wolf has plans to turn it into the best school in the world, but Mister Twister is still around.”

What a lie! Little Wolf has not written a diary at all. He has written loads and loads and loads of letters to his mum and dad. But they are jolly good to read, particularly with his phonetic spellings. Oh, and Tony Ross’ illustrations of course.

Road to War: a First World War girl’s diary 1916-1917, by Valerie Wilding

“It’s 1917 and the Great War rages in Europe. When Daffy Rowntree’s brother goes missing in action she refuses to sit safely in England, and determines to do something to help win the war. Soon she finds herself in the mud and horror of the battlefields of France, driving an ambulance transporting the wounded of the trenches.”

This diary is a good read and the expressive narrative should enrich learning from non-fiction books on the subject. It’s published by Scholastic as one of their My Story series.

Young teen

The Vlogger Diaries: confessions of an internet sensation, by Tim Collins

“If you can’t make friends, make subscribers. Olivia Warren is living the vlogging dream. With thousands of subscribers, a gorgeous boyfriend and freebies coming through the door, it couldn’t be going better. But Olivia has a secret. The girl on the vlog isn’t her. How long can it last? Will Olivia be exposed as a fraud? And will Olivia’s cat ever stop sleeping and do something cute enough to go viral? Discover the hilarious story of one teenage girl’s journey from geeky nobody to online superstar - sort of.”

This book is very funny!

My Smoky Bacon Crisp Obsession, by J. A. Buckle

“16-year-old Josh Walker is starting sixth form college and is determined to form a band, get a lot closer to his new girlfriend Becky and, hopefully, pass the odd A level. A few days in and he’s already embarrassed himself in front of a class - he’ll need all the help his ferret, a little witchcraft and a lot of smoky bacon crisps can give.”

This has been described as “Adrian Mole for the Wimpy Kid generation.”

The Wimpy Vampire Strikes Back, by Tim Collins

“Transformed at the awkward age of 15, Nigel now faces the greatest challenge of all: responsibility. In this, his latest diary, Nigel finds himself in charge of a vampire coven on a remote Scottish island. As if trying to finish his vampire history homework and impress a vamp girl called Lenora wasn’t enough, Nigel has to spend his time resolving petty disputes. When a new vampire name Viktor joins his class, Nigel is happy to let him take over. But this newcomer soon proves himself to be a brutal and merciless leader. The hapless Nigel is cajoled into becoming the head of the resistance movement, but will he triumph over his enemy?”

Cadogan Square, by Carol Drinkwater

Cadogan Square is two interconnected stories about life in Edwardian England spanning 15 years. The first story begins in 1899 with Flora wanting to vote and be educated, but having to stand up to the men around her. The second story begins in 1909 with Dollie, Flora’s ward, being swept up in the campaign for Votes for Women.”

Flora in Love, by Natasha Farrant

“As much as Bluebell wants a normal life she knows that, with her family, that’s asking the impossible: Mum is behaving strangely, Dad is ‘liberating’ the pets and her sister Flora has fallen deeply and desperately in love. Will anyone notice that Blue is having problems of her own?”

Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend, by Cora Harrison

“Jane wants to meet a hero worthy of her imagination: a man who is dashing and daring and handsome and brave. Jane and Jenny are whiling away the season in Bath and there are plenty of rumours and scandals to entertain them. But a good reputation, once lost, is gone forever; and Jane is in danger of becoming the talk of the town.”

Dancing in my Nuddy-pants!, by Louise Rennison

The fourth of the 10 books in the Georgia Nicolson series. While Rennison’s death last year was particularly mourned by 20- and 30-somethings who read the series when it first came out, it is still just as relevant and funny for teens today.

I Capture The Castle, by Dodie Smith

“This is the journal of Cassandra Mortmain. First, there is her eccentric father. Then there is her sister, Rose - and her stepmother, Topaz. Finally, there is Stephen, who is in love with Cassandra. Cassandra records her feelings on all of them.”

First published in 1949, I Capture The Castle is still delighting readers 65 years later. It often appears in lists of “my favourite ever book” and has a local connection too. Dodie Smith once lived near Sudbury and the film of the book was filmed at Framlingham Castle.

The Dirt Diary, by Anna Staniszewski

This diary is a salvation, and then a liability. 13-year-old Rachel’s life sinks to a new low when her mum sets up a cleaning business employing just her, gets even worse when she has to clean the houses of all her schoolmates, but begins to look up when she captures their secrets in her newly named “dirt diary”. It’s a novel about keeping a diary, it’s very funny and would make a brilliant film.

The Rise and Rise of Tabitha Baird, by Arabella Weir

“When 13-year-old Tabitha Baird starts at a new school, she’s determined to be the coolest, most popular girl there - whatever it takes. She adjusts her school skirt so it’s just the right length. She has enough attitude to make it into the in-crowd. But it’s not always easy being cool.”

Secrets, by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt

“A chance meeting sparks a friendship between two very different girls, Treasure and India. When Treasure has to run away to avoid her stepfather, India comes up with a hiding place inspired by her favourite author Anne Frank.”

Jo Dixon

I work for Suffolk Libraries Stock Team.