- Read All About It!
- Set the Record Straight
- A Level Playing Field
- Old Story, New Twist
- Everyone's a Critic
- Digital Disaster
- Black and White and Grey All Over
- Texting 1, 2, 3
Several recurring secondary characters provide a strong support system for Sam:
- Sam’s single mom is a strong presence in each book, and there is always at least one scene where Mom provides advice to help Sam out of a difficult situation.
- Sam’s older sister, Allie, who is in high school, annoys Sam in the way that all sisters annoy each other, but she, too, is often a positive influence, helping Sam not just with boys, but with school, sports, and other problems that arise.
- Sam and Hailey, her best friend since first grade, have their ups and downs, but their friendship is a good model for realistic and healthy tween friendships. The girls fight, but they always find ways to fairly compromise, and though they are opposites, they complement each other nicely. Sam also helps Hailey with her schoolwork due to Hailey’s difficulties with dyslexia. Hailey’s frequently changing crushes are also a part of the plot of each book.
- The newspaper advisor Mr. Trigg (Trigger) also serves as a mentor for Sam, mainly for her journalism career, but also on more serious matters such as cyberbullying. Mr. Trigg often stands up for Sam’s rights as a journalist and when he makes mistakes, he admits to them freely. His obsession with Winston Churchill and his British heritage in general are recurring themes in each book.
The advice Sam dispenses in the books is always sound, and the kind of advice I think most adults would like kids to share with one another. Girls who are used to reading magazine advice columns will be eager to see how Sam deals with each question thrown her way. The response Sam ends up writing for each column often ties into an overall theme from the rest of the story as well, which brings everything together at the end of the book.
This series as a whole could benefit from more careful editing. Some books have just a few spelling errors or missing words; others have entire paragraphs that don’t make sense and names that change spelling in the middle of the story. (“Allie” became “Ally” in one of the books, then changed back to “Allie” after a few paragraphs.) There are also some continuity issues regarding whether or not Sam has signed up for “Buddybook,” the fictional equivalent of Facebook in the Dear Know-It-All universe. Her reasons for not being a member seem to change from book to book, and sometimes what she says in a later book doesn’t match what the readers know has happened in an earlier book.
Dear Know-It-All will appeal to readers who find comfort in predictable, formulaic stories. Both boys and girls who aspire to write will enjoy the journalism aspect of the series,though some might be turned off by the heavy focus on romance. Read-alikes for the series include The Cupcake Diaries books, the How I Survived Middle School series and The Baby-sitters Club.
Watch a book trailer for the Dear Know-It-All series here.
I borrowed the first eight books in the Dear Know-It-All series from my local public library.
For more about this series, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.