Posts Tagged ‘middle school’
Despite being a book reviewer, I tend to avoid the latest fads. Which is why when every second kid seemed to be reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, I read other books instead. No book could be that good, could it? Then my resource students, who could easily contest for the spot of the most notorious non-readers, began showing me the book too. THEY caught my attention.
“First of all, let me get something straight: This is a JOURNAL, not a diary.” So writes Greg Heffley, a twelve-year-old boy new to middle school. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is described on its cover as “a novel in cartoons,” but don’t let this mislead you. The book isn’t a comic strip or a graphic novel. It’s an actual 200+ page story, told in diary–er, journal– format, where the illustrations have been purposely drawn as cartoons.
Greg continues, “I know what it says on the cover, but when Mom went out to buy this thing, I SPECIFICALLY told her not to get the one that had diary on it.” Now let ME get something straight, in case you haven’t already figured it out already: This is not a literature. Greg Heffley prefers sleep, pranks, hot girls, video games to reading books–of any kind. Does this sound like any boy you know? Yet devout reader of classics that I am, I liked the book enough to buy my own copy, eagerly seek out the movie, and recommend it to every boy (and even some girls) that I know–including my husband.
In every way I can think of, Greg is NOT me. He keeps a diary only to have answers handy about his life when he’s rich and famous and people are asking him questions all day long. He hates being in gifted reading, because this means a lot of extra work. He gets up on the weekend, not to watch television, but to escape his breath. He invites his best friend over to work out with homemade weights and lets him go first, simply to see if the broomstick will snap. He tries out for the part of a tree in the school play to avoid having lines and to have the opportunity to throw apples at a classmate. Is it any wonder some adult critics condemn the book for being about a selfish lazy kid?
Yet Greg is like anyone who (like me) has been unpopular: “The best I can figure is that I’m somewhere around 52nd or 53rd most popular this year.” He is also anyone who has been the middle child, meaning your older sibling picks on you and your younger sibling gets away with everything you don’t. He is anyone who has been bullied, which for him meant hiding out at his grandmother’s house on Halloween night and often being assaulted by snowballs. He is also anyone whose plans have backfired. For example, thinking he can rely on the map at the back of the classroom, he doesn’t study for his geography test–except then his teacher removes it at the last minute and Greg fails his test. And he is all of us who can’t handle anymore stress.
Jeff Kinney has adeptly captured the world of most boys. This is part of the appeal of the books, although not what I most admire about Kinney. After all, writing about boys should be easy for him as a former boy. What I admire most is how he can write about this kid who in one breath I kind of don’t like, but in the next I can so easily identify with. He’s the wimpy kid in all of us–and so, yes, a popular book can actually truly be good.
My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.
How would you rate this book?
- Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Should The Wimp Grow Up? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, actors Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron: Interview (timeoutny.com)
- WINNER of the Wimpy Kid Announced! (recordedbooks.wordpress.com)