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Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free


Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free

Summer vacation is supposed to be fun, and it’s definitely supposed to be free of work. But for middle-schooler Jamie Kelly, the summer is not off to a great start. Not only was the school year extended by one day due to her friend Isabella's mischief, she finds that she can't even sleep in late, and her new commitment to vegetarianism keeps getting thwarted by pepperoni pizza and drive-thru hamburgers. Unfortunately, things take a drastic turn for the worse when her aunt and uncle agree to take her and her friends to Screamotopia, but only if they can come up with the money for the admission. THE WORST THINGS IN LIFE ARE ALSO FREE, the 10th installment in Jim Benton's humorous Dear Dumb Diary series, follows Jamie and her pals Isabella and Angeline in their quest for $300.

The girls begin with a lemonade stand at Jamie's house, but by the time their one and only customer, the neighbor they call Cigarette Lady, comes by, Isabella has finished off the lemonade. Next, Angeline agrees to share her babysitting work with the others, resulting in an afternoon spent with Ricky. When Ricky's mother returns, her son is wrapped in diaper upon diaper, with the dirty one still on him. It  seems their babysitting days are over. Their next scheme is a car wash, but once again their moneymaking dreams are crushed. Things start to turn around when the girls bring on the sweet but dumb Emmily to help them out, but as the date for Screamotopia approaches, they remain hundreds of dollars short of their goal.

Jamie Kelly is a funny and charming narrator, and her diary is always a source of laugh-out-loud one-liners and wry observations. The illustrations, found on every page of this chapter book, add to the hilarity. As usual, Benton captures the sassiness, cynicism and innocence of his preteen characters. Jamie, as much as she can be sarcastic and selfish, can also be kindhearted. She is loyal (whether she knows it or not), fun and smart. Her diary is a wonderful record of the details and questions of life that adults often grow to ignore, and they are phrased in such a witty and honest way. She writes this about teachers: “I used to wonder why teachers were the only adults who got three-month vacations, but know I know it's because they're the only adults that deserve them. They probably don't do cool things like hang out at the beach, though. I think they spend the full three months in an insane asylum to prepare for the next year.”

Reviewed by on June 1, 2010

Dear Dumb Diary #10: The Worst Things in Life Are Also Free
by Jim Benton

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0545116147
  • ISBN-13: 9780545116145