Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel in Cartoons - Jeff Kinney

Also reviewed by Kari.

Summary: Being a kid can really stink. And no ones knows this better than Greg Heffley, who fhinds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving.

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, author and illustrator Jeff Kinney introduces us to an unlikely hero. As Greg says in his diary: "Just don't expect me to be all "Dear Diary" this and "Dear Diary" that. Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won't do and what he actually does are two very different things.

My review: Apparently these books are all the rage right now in elementary and middle school, so I decided to read one and see what all the fuss was about. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is set up like an actual diary (or journal as the main character, Greg, would have it). The cartoon illustrations are humorous and, with one or more on every page, they break up the text really well. The steno ruling and the way the book is “handwritten” definitely lend to the sense that you are reading someone’s personal diary rather than a book. Throw in just enough sass and sarcasm to appeal to a young reader looking for a little light rebellion and you have an instant hit.

While this isn’t average adult fare, there was some humor in the book (mostly sarcasm in reference to his parents) that I really enjoyed and the cartoons were funny. Everything seemed fairly age appropriate, however, Greg has the usual misguided moral compass and reasoning abilities of a kid his age, so sometimes he makes the wrong decisions and expresses thoughts and feelings that aren’t necessarily wise. I’m sure it’s funny for older kids to read about, but I didn’t really appreciate the way he treated some of his friends and made fun of people. Of course, that’s the peon in me talking.

Obviously, as an adult, this wasn’t a life-altering book for me, but I can definitely see why Wimpy Kid is so popular. My baby sister (11), who rarely reads, has read all of four of the books in this series, and she did it rather quickly. I won’t be reviewing any more of them as I imagine my reviews of them would simply be cut-and-paste copies of this one, but I think that these would be great books to pass on to a reluctant reader in your life.

***WARNING*** There is a section in this book that mentions a certain Christmas character and lays to rest rumors surrounding his supposed existence. I almost didn't catch it. It is veeeerrrry subtle, but it could put a damper on your kid's favorite holiday if they still…well, you know.

My Rating: 3 Stars for me. 4 Stars or more for your average middle schooler.

To sum it up: Wimpy Kid is a creative solution to the my-kid-doesn’t-want-to-read dilemma.

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