What’s it all about?:
Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?
The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to
It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.
In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.
Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. 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.
Since its launch in May 2004 on Funbrain.com, the Web version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been viewed by 20 million unique online readers. This year, it is averaging 70,000 readers a day.
What did I think?:
I’ve known about the popularity of the Wimpy Kid series for some time now so it seemed fitting for Chrissi Reads and I to include the first book in our Kid Lit challenge this year. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the story of Greg Heffley and chronicles a year of his life in middle school with all the dramas and issues that children of this age go through. Greg makes us very aware though that this is NOT a diary, so we shouldn’t expect weepy or heart-rending entries. The author, Jeff Kinney paints a marvellous picture about what it’s like to be a young teenager – we have the embarrassing mum who dances around to popular tunes, the older sibling who mostly ignores him and the younger irritating sibling who never seems to be in the wrong.
Greg is not a particularly popular boy at school, he has the skinny, weedy sort of look going on which girls don’t seem to be interested in but he can always rely on his best friend Rowley to play video games and go trick or treating with. In the year that Greg keeps his diary, a lot happens in his life. He attempts to run for Class Treasurer and Class Clown, both plans failing spectacularly. In fact, his biggest achievement of the year is becoming a Safety Patrol member, which escorts kindergarten children to school (and that’s only because of the free hot chocolate each member is entitled to!). Unfortunately, even this position doesn’t last for long when he is discovered to have frightened the smaller children with worms, made worse by the fact that at first he let the blame for this fall on his best friend Rowley which threatens their friendship indefinitely. As if losing his best friend is not bad enough to deal with, (horror of horrors) he is subjected to a “wrestling unit” as part of the school’s P.E. program. Greg really doesn’t know how he is going to survive this year and there’s always a possibility that he could be subjected to the deadly “Cheese Touch,” which would definitely lead to no-one coming near him at all.
I’ve read a book similar to this last year as part of my Banned Books feature – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, although Wimpy Kid is targeted at a lower age range. For the audience it’s aimed it, this book does exactly what it says on the tin and I loved the cartoons which were simplistic, but very sweet. I’ve read a few reviews of the book that were quite negative about the character of Greg but I tend to disagree. He doesn’t come off in the best light, he’s lazy, his attitude is questionable and he is quite mean towards the character who is meant to be his best friend. However, I think this is probably an authentic portrayal of what many twelve year old boys are like, before they discover themselves and learn about the world a bit. For this reason, I think a lot of children will identify with the book and enjoy it more – at that age, who wants a perfect character that you could never live up to anyway? It’s a fun, easy read that has the potential to get a lot more kids interested in reading and that can only be a good thing.
For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):