July 17, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

DIARY OFA WIMPY KID: A Novel in Cartoons by Jeff Kinney (Amulet, 2007)
GENRE: Humor (contemporary)
HONORS: ALA Notable Book Award; multiple Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards and nominations

REVIEW: Diary of a Wimpy Kid enjoys a near universal fandom among middle school boys (and many middle school girls). It's the story of Greg Heffley, a sympathetic and frank, "every-kid" figure of a tween-age boy. Appropriately, the diary opens with a caveat - a statement that Greg's mother is making him keep a journal and so that is why he's doing it. Greg's journal (not a diary - girls keep diaries) is informal and colloquial and full of appeal. Greg's struggles with the middle-school social hierarchy, with his big brother Roderick, with his dorky best friend and with his life in general, are conveyed through hand-written notes and goofy drawings, as is appropriate for the diary of a kid Greg's age. The humor is skewed directly at the middle-school set, and though it falls a touch flat from an adult's perspective, it's appeal is undeniable when considering the target audience. Savvy and topical, it's no wonder that the series took off and shows no sign of slowing.

OPINION: Diary of a Wimpy Kid has become something of a cultural juggernaut. It is rare to find a middle-schooler who hasn't read at least one, or seen the movie. Well-written and extremely in touch with the concerns of adolescents (particularly those who are less than popular), it's a strong series deserving of the attention it gets.

IDEAS: Undoubtedly a sure thing for reluctant readers - especially boys - providing you find one who hasn't read them already. A nice suggestion as well for kids ready to graduate from the Geronimo Stilton books, or fans of The Dork Diaries.

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