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Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After (also known as Once Upon a Dork) is the 8th Dork Diaries book, taking place in April. It is stated to be released on September 30, 2014. It is canon to the book series with the only exception being that it only takes place on April 1st. The diary entries will not be each day but chronologically in time on the April Fools' Day.
After a bump on the head by a dodgeball thrown by MacKenzie in gym class on April Fool’s Day, Nikki Maxwell has a wild dream in which she, her BFFs Chloe Garcia and Zoey Franklin, her crush Brandon Roberts, and mean girl MacKenzie all end up playing the roles of some familiar classic fairy tale characters. Of course, the stories don’t go quite as expected—because they each have a very special Dork Diaries spin!
Tuesday, April 1 I'm late! I'm late! (7:22 AM)
Nikki wakes up from oversleeping because Brianna took her alarm clock. Now, she has to get ready for school as quickly as possible. Little does she know that things are only gonna get worse from here.
Breakfast Battle (7:25 AM)
Nikki scolds Brianna for taking her alarm clock, but Brianna blames Miss Penelope. Brianna makes herself a peanut butter, jelly and pickle sandwich and offers Nikki a bite. After a few times saying "no", Nikki tells her she's not going to eat it. Before Nikki can leave for school, Brianna finds her sandwich is gone and accuses Nikki for taking it, which Nikki denies. As she leaves, she thinks mom and dad need to start disciplining Brianna more instead of letting her walk all over Nikki. On her way to school, she still wonders about why Brandon kissed her.
Locker Shocker! (7:44 AM)
When Nikki arrives at school, everyone is eyeing and talking about her new sweater, which she saved up her allowance for. She thinks everyone is so jealous and admiring it. But when she gets to her locker, MacKenzie has a little something to tell her and points to it. Nikki discovers that Brianna's lost sandwich got onto her sweater. Now her sweater is ruined and everyone laughs at her.
Painful Stains! (7:50 AM)
Nikki puts together how Brianna's sandwich got onto her sweater in the first place and realizes Brianna was right about her stealing her sandwich, albeit unintentionally. She goes to the girls' room to get the stains out, but it's no use. She wishes she was an only child.
Hiding out in English class (8:05 AM)
In English class, Nikki tries to hide as best as she can to avoid letting anyone else see her ruined sweater. Her English teacher announces that their "Grapes of Wrath" assignment is canceled in place of a book on all sorts of fairy tales. No one seems that interested at first. This inspires Nikki to write in her notebook what her life would be like if it was a fairy tale. She looks into the book itself and gets so lost in it she loses track of time. When the bell rings, some students are still laughing at her stains.
Critical Crush Crisis (10:55 AM)
Brandon shows up at Nikki's locker to talk to her about the journalism camp he's going to this summer. They're opening up a cartoonist panel and he texted Nikki about it, but she never got it. Nikki checks her phone and Brandon notices something about it that looks off. Not only was Nikki's phone battery dead, but Brianna had also doodled on the back of it. Now it's too late for Nikki to sign up for the camp and MacKenzie will be the one going with Brandon. It has only gotten worse for Nikki.
Pity Party with my BFF's (10:58 AM)
Nikki has plans to go home after gym to get changed and shower to get rid of the sandwich smell. She explains her whole day to Zoey and Chloe. They show sympathy and Nikki is happy to have such wonderful friends.
The Perils of PE (11:05 AM)
As gym class was beginning, the teacher goes to get a ball, and it is revealed that the sport they will be playing is Dodgeball, most feared gym class sport of all. The game begins and the balls fly. Jessica targets Nikki and throws. But Nikki gets out of the way and the ball bounces back and hits Jessica, eliminated her. Zoey and Chloe join Nikki in evading and all incoming balls and they are eventually able to get the upper hand. Suddenly, MacKenzie gets a ball and fires it with all her might at Nikki. Nikki gets hit and is dazed from the impact. Soon, Nikki loses consciousness and falls over while everyone (except MacKenzie) worries what happened to her.
Descending Into the Deepest Depths of Darkness
All of a sudden, Nikki finds herself falling into a dark void.
Someplace Really Weird!
While Nikki is still unconscious, some small people look on to see if she's alive or dead. Nikki comes to and sees them. They are Munchkins, little people who have plenty of snacks to eat and attend Fairy Tale Land Middle School. Nikki tries to reassess her situation and remembers what had happened leading up to her getting knocked out by MacKenzie. But before she can put two and two together, the Munchkins praise her as their hero for stopping the witch. Nikki thinks this is all just a prank everyone is pulling, but they don't know any of the people Nikki knowns. They explain to her that when Nikki arrived at Fairy Tale Land, she landed on top of the witch, flattening her. But she was only defeated, not killed. Her shoes were left behind, and now, a bright light appears, making Nikki fear it's the wicked witch.
Which Witch is Which?!
The light shines off and reveals Brianna. Nikki thinks it's her little sister, but she says she is not her sister and she is the good fairy of Fairy Tale Land, who just happens to have the same name as her sister. Since these are all fairy tales, Nikki thinks the ones she is following are a part of it, but all the thinks she knows are worded differently. The Wizard of Oz is now known as the Wizard of Odd. Brianna the good fairy decides to give the witch's shoes to Nikki. They won't get her home. They're just very stylish. Nikki also learns about the three categories of people who live in Fairy Tale Land:
-Regals: The royalty who live in castles -Renegades: The adventurers who live in the woods -Rogues: The evil magic users who cause mischief
Now, Nikki just needs to get to the school's office to tell the wizard to take her home.
Where am I?
Nikki leaves the gym and finds herself in a forest, rather than a hallway. At night, the forest teems with creepy creatures and scary scenery. Nikki is also wearing a dress like Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As she continues into the dark forest, she calls for Brianna for help, but she doesn't show up. Now, Nikki is all alone and scared in the dark forest. She'll have to sleep there for the night and continue tomorrow.
Furry and Feathered Friends!
Morning comes, and Nikki sees the forest is pleasant and pure in the day. The woodland creatures greet her and offer her some of their food. She takes some of the food with her and thanks them for everything.
Into the Woods
While Nikki contemplates on her doubts of there being no wizard, she comes across a nice cottage. She steps in and finds that someone had come in uninvited. There were three bowls of porridge, the smallest being empty, three chairs, the smallest having broken, and three beds, with someone sleeping in the smallest one. Nikki finds who she believes is Chloe, but it's really Goldilocks, a student from the school who mistakes her for Alice from Wonderland and Dorothy from Oz. Goldilocks happens to be a bit of a motor mouth and prattles on about details that don't matter until Nikki warns her that the three bears will be back from their walk soon, and they need to leave. Goldilocks says one of the rouges told her it was a Bed and Breakfast, but Nikki tells her the rogue tricked her into coming her to be eaten by the bears. Before they can escape, the bears return from their walk and find out about what Goldilocks did. They hide under Baby Bear's bed, hoping they won't find them. The bears find some of the nuts and berries Nikki left on the bed and they decide to bake a pie with it. While they're doing that, Nikki and Goldilocks escape out the window. Nikki believes that the witch, who is really MacKenzie, wants the renegades dead.
Back Into the Woods!
As Goldilocks and Nikki continue onward, Goldilocks goes to the Fairy Tale Land council to file a report on what happened. She and Nikki will meet back at the Mad Hatter Tea Shop in an hour. Nikki goes on the trail for a little bit and finds a girl in a red hood who looks an awful lot like Zoey. It's Little Red Riding Hood. She steps into a house and notices that the grandma in bed doesn't look much like a grandma and it turns out that it's really a wolf in disguise. He attacks Zoey in an attempt to eat her, but Nikki stops him and accidentally pulls his tail off. Nikki and the wolf argue over who is crazier until the wolf leaves. It turns out Red wasn't going to her own grandma's house. She was visiting one of the rogues' grandmas, but Nikki tells her it was a trap to make her the wolf's lunch. As thanks for saving her, Red tags along with Nikki.
The Mad Hatter Tea Shop
The girls arrive at the Mad Hatter Tea Shop, where the Mad Hatter bears a striking resemblance to Nikki's friend, Theo. They get some tea and cookies and while they eat, they are greeted by three princesses: Rapunzel (portrayed by Marcy), Snow White (portrayed by Violet), and Sleeping Beauty (portrayed by Jenny). They had never seen Nikki before, but that's because she is lost and trying to get to the wizard. The princesses wish they could go on adventures like the renegades, as they are tired of living out their regal damsel statuses all the time. Red and Goldilocks also want to try being princesses. Nikki suggests they try it, even if it means going against Fairy Tale Land regulations. They also tell Nikki that the Charming family is holding the Spring Ball tonight and she should go disguised as a princess to ask them where she can find the wizard. It's a long shot, but she has to try.
Pumpkins and Mice
Nikki arrives at Charming Castle as the ball begins. There, the castle is guarded by a ton of guards, one of them looking like Mr. Grumpy from the arena the Bad Boyz concert was held at. Nikki runs off and hides in the horse stable and calls Brianna. Soon enough, Brianna arrives and gives Nikki a new dress. But it's made out of ham. She tries again and gives her a glamorous dress for the ball. Then she tries turning a mouse and a pumpkin into a carriage, but fails. Nikki doesn't need it since they're just right next to the castle. Brianna warns her that she needs to leave by midnight, when the magic wears off.
At the Royal Ball
Nikki enters the castle with the ball taking place. As everyone gazes at her in wonder, Prince Charming, portrayed by Brandon, comes and greets the princess from afar. Nikki, overcome by the fact that her crush is the prince, asks him where the wizard is. He tells her that he left to go take care of something for the Queen of Hearts, so Nikki missed him. Prince Brandon states that he wishes he could go on an adventure of his own, but his regal duties forbid it. After some encouragement from Nikki, he decides to do so. Soon, they begin dancing until the clock strikes midnight and Nikki runs off, leaving behind one of her shoes. The prince picks up the shoe and Nikki runs back to the stable to cry over what had happened.
At the Queen of Hearts' Castle
Nikki heads off for the Queen of Hearts' castle to tell her that she needs to see the wizard. She arrives and the guards tell her that a powerful and dangerous magic user is on the loose. They take her to the wizard right away. The wizard looks like Principal Winston. When Nikki meets him, she introduces herself, but all of a sudden, the wizard recognizes her name and believes it belongs to the evil magic user who has caused trouble. Just then, MacKenzie, the queen, and even the three bears and the wolf arrive to confront her. For her supposed crimes, the queen decides to behead Nikki. The guards take her to the dungeon. Nikki tries calling for Brianna one last time, but it's no use. Nikki is doomed.
My Execution Eve Dinner Celebration
One of the guards (who resembled Sensei Hawkins) comes to the dungeon and tells Nikki to come to her execution eve dinner. Nikki doesn't want to since it would be her last meal, but the guard tells her the queen's orders must be followed. She goes to the throne room to see the queen (who looks like Victoria Steel) and the king (who looks like Mr. Zimmerman). The queen is furious for Nikki's tardiness and they go to settle down for Nikki's last meal. Just then, Brianna appears disguised as a potted plant to Nikki, but she doesn't quite have a plan yet. The feast begins, and Nikki tries to see what Brianna is up to. But before she can get an idea, MacKenzie has one of the guards destroy the plant. Nikki looks on in horror as Brianna is presumably killed. Now she has lost her fairy godmother, and her last hope of survival.
Trials and Tribulations
The day of Nikki's trial has come. Even if she is found innocent, the queen will behead her anyway, so she's doomed no matter what. MacKenzie tells Nikki about her master plan to rule over Fairy Tale Land and how it was falling apart thanks to her influence on the Regals. And with her out of the way, she can carry it out all over again. The trial begins and the queen is eager to behead Nikki and gets a witness who didn't even meet Nikki in the first place. The queen declares Nikki guilty and Nikki objects to the unfair system. Just as the trial is about to end, someone steps up to defy her, and that someone is Prince Brandon. He is joined by Rapunzel, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty who had become Renegades, as well as Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood who had become princesses. The queen sends her guards on them, but the reversed Renegades and Regals take them out easily. Red and Goldilocks trap MacKenzie and the queen in their tracks. But MacKenzie is not finished yet. She plans to turn Nikki into a frog until Prince Brandon gets in the way. She decides to turn them both into frogs, but suddenly, she herself is turned into one, thanks to Brianna. Brianna had survived because she escaped the plant she was hiding in and they just destroyed a common houseplant. The Charming Kingdom's royal guard comes and arrests the queen. Prince Brandon explains that he decided to take Nikki's advice and go on his adventure. The others were recruited by Brianna to help Nikki, too. The prince returns the shoe Nikki dropped as she left the ball. And the two of them have a happy moment.
Stuck in Fairy Tale Land! Again!
The council sadly informs Nikki that no one is powerful enough to send Nikki back home. And the wizard was a fake. Brianna comes with a book, which happens to be like the fairy tale book her English teacher had, and it contains a spell that can send Nikki back. She tries to catch it, but her wand doesn't work. She tries giving it a good shake, but the star part breaks off and hits Nikki in the face, knocking her unconscious. At that moment, Nikki re-enters the void.
Waking Up Again!!
Nikki starts to wake up from her unconscious state and hear voices speaking about her. She has a jolt of fear from her fantasy. Her friends calm her down and think something's wrong with her when she is still dazed. Thankfully, she is not too delusional, so she'll be back in balance soon. MacKenzie tries to explain that the ball just slipped out of her hand as it hit her face. But everyone knows she did it intentionally. Because of this, the teacher tells MacKenzie to go see Principal Winston for clobbering Nikki. And as for Nikki, she goes to the nurse's office for the rest of the day to rest off the pain from the ball shot. Brandon comes by to check on her, and she is happy to see how much he cares about her. MacKenzie gets three days of detention for unsportsmanlike behavior and has to wash the showers in the girls' room.
Back Home! Finally! (4:15 PM)
Nikki gets home and starts to feel just fine now and gets a note from Brianna. She is so happy to be home and see everything the way it is (even breaking the fourth wall about her adventures being a book series). She reads Brianna's note, where she apologizes for taking her alarm clock, accusing her of stealing her sandwich, playing on her phone and doodling on it. She wants Nikki to understand that she is very sorry and even made her a PBJ&P sandwich, hoping she'll try it. At first, Nikki is a little hesitant to try the sandwich, but when she tries a bite, it's actually really good. She eats the whole thing and forgives Brianna. Even if they don't always get along, Nikki is happy to have a sister like her.
- In Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life, Nikki Maxwell states that Mrs. Peach, the Westchester Country Day Middle School librarian, announced she was taking six of her most hardworking and committed Library Shelving Assistants (LSAs) on a trip to New York to participate in National Library Week and meet famous writers. Mrs. Peach also announced that it would take place in April. Book 8 only takes place on the first day of April, and since this took place in Nikki's subconscious then, NLW was not shown.
- Brandon is shown to be very romantic and caring towards Nikki both in her dream and reality.
- This is one of the only books to take place in 1 day, the other being Dork Diaries: How to Dork Your Diary.
- Brianna accidentally calling a man named Moe who gets angry about the call and threatens the caller may be a reference to The Simpsons, where Bart constantly calls Moe Szyslak at his tavern to prank call him asking for funny names that sound like something else. Only Brianna called this Moe by accident.