Series Review

WARNING: You are about to read my UTTERLY BIGGEST SECRETS. Can I trust you? Ok then. I’m Ella, and this is my diary.

My daughter loves the Ella Diaries series of books written by Australian author Meredith Costain. And my daughter is a reluctant reader (something I have struggled with!) She finds them LOL funny, has read each book in the series ten times over and eagerly looks forward to each new installment. There are currently twelve books in the series and Book 1, Double Dare You, was recently shortlisted for the WA Young Readers Book Award 2017, which is a great indicator of their appeal.

As well as the humour, my daughter likes the made up words used for emphasis. For example, squasherated, fantabulous, giganterous and swarmerously! She also really likes the illustrations and how you actually feel like you are reading someone’s personal diary. This is because Costain effectively uses a child’s voice and thought. My daughter also likes the inclusion of a poem in each book.

The main character is Ella. Ella’s BFF is Zoe and her worst enemy is Peach. In a sequence of diary entries, Aussie girl Ella shares her ‘utterly biggest secrets’. Ella is a good student and friend, loves to write poetry and draw stylish clothing. She also likes to doodle and illustrate her thoughts and feelings. This almost makes the cute and cheerful illustrations by Danielle McDonald as important as the text. Themes of friendship, peer pressure and bullying are covered. Lots of middle primary girls will relate to the trials and tribulations that go on in classrooms and playgrounds.  So let’s start with Book 1, where it all began!

Book One

Double Dare You (Ella Diaries, Book 1)

Ella is totally looking forward to the new school year. But then on the first day back she finds herself sitting next to Peach, her worst enemy ever. And her BFF Zoe is a no show. Then Peach tries to get Ella in trouble with their new teacher, Miss Weiss. And that night she dreams she is being chased off a cliff by a giant strawberry with blonde hair and blue eyes! Could this year get any worse? There is a great moral lesson about kindness and standing up for what is right in the midst of peer pressure. Ella learns that there is more power in refusal than escape in submission.

Book Five

Christmas Chaos (Ella Diaries, Book 5)

With Christmas fast approaching this title would make a wonderful gift or some light holiday reading. It is the fifth book in the series and Ella is looking forward to her summer Christmas beach holiday. But it rains. A lot. And if that’s not bad enough, her best friends team up with Peach, her worst enemy. Ella’s mum drags her off to the Krafty Kids Klass with her little sister Olivia. A glitter mishap sees Ella getting teased by everyone in the class and called a Clumsy Klogs by the teacher. Will this holiday be a disaster? Friendships can be tricky. Girls will relate to Ella’s feelings and the situations she finds herself in.

Book Ten

Friendship S.O.S (Ella Diaries, Book 10)

I have included Book 10 because it is my daughter’s favourite. Probably because Ella gets to have a whole week off school! Ella is going on a luxury cruise with her BFF Zoe and her Nanna Kate. And she can’t wait! But then a friendship catastrophe strikes when Zoe gets sick. It would seem that the eagerly anticipated cruise will be totally ruined. Can she find a new friend? Or will this voyage be fun overboard? Sometimes we need to make new friends and this can be a good thing. Ella’s new friendship with Sunny is proof of this.

Book Eleven

Going Green (Ella Diaries, Book 11)

In Book 11 of the series, Ella wants to be the school’s Planet Protector captain. But so does her arch rival, Peach Parker. And sneaky Peach will stop at nothing to get more votes than Ella. On the day of their big speeches Ella and Peach have chosen the same topic! Peach wins and Ella gets to be the vice captain. With lots of jobs to do, Peach makes Ella pick up litter, clean the worm farm and shovel chicken poo! Meanwhile Peach is in charge of the cool projects and gets to wear a sparkly uniform. Will Peach rule the school again or is she the worst ever Planet Protector captain?  This is the most recent published book in the series. Book 12, Total TV Drama is due to be published on 1 January 2018.

Journal Writing

Image by James DeMers. CCO – public domain.

Why not start writing your own journal? The New Year would be the perfect time to get started. Like Ella, you might even receive a diary or journal for Christmas. A journal is a place to write freely about anything. Ourselves, our feelings, things we like and things we don’t like, special memories, problems, friends, anything at all.  Pictures convey meaning too, so it’s okay to use pictures in place of words or as well as words. There are many benefits to keeping a journal. These include:

  • Builds confidence in writing skills with consistent writing practice
  • Fosters creativity and self-expression
  • Encourages self-reflection and self-awareness
  • Develops communication skills
  • Makes writing routine and can improve handwriting
  • It can decrease stress and improve well-being

Sometimes talking about a problem with your friends or parents can help you feel better. Consider your diary as a friend who is always there. Writing in your diary should be fun and relaxing. To get you started, you could use this sentence as a starting point to create your own diary entry:

Dear Diary,

Mega-cringe day today! It all began when …

Write on! …

Did You Know?

Author Meredith Costain has started a new series called ‘Olivia’s Secret Scribbles’ of which the first book My New Best Friend is due for release on 1 February 2018.

Note: If you are looking for a diary inspired series with boy appeal, I highly recommend The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Happy reading!