Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Genre(s): Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication date: 2007
Hardcover: 224 pages
Other: was made into a film in 2010
Summary: Greg Heffley is an average middle school kid who is not as popular or strong as he’d like to be, and yet he seems to enjoy life. He has his video games, his sweet but odd friend Rowley, and parents who care (perhaps a bit too much for his liking, as it makes it hard to get away with stuff). Told in journal format, with humorous illustrations on each page, we learn about Greg’s life in his own words. As the title implies, Greg is indeed a wimpy kid, in more ways than one. Kids will appreciate that Greg is not a perfect role model and struggles with making decisions when it’s between what he knows is right and what would be more fun.
To whom will this appeal?: This humorous book will appeal to lovers of contemporary humorous realistic fiction, and especially to reluctant readers. The age level intended for this book ranges from the elementary grades through middle school. However, adults have also been observed giggling with recognition as they eagerly leaf through the pages for a relatively painless trip back in time to the awkwardness of junior high.
It’s a quick read and the first of a whole series (with movie tie-ins) and so it’s become somewhat of an institution, which might lead some skeptics to wonder what the hoopla isall about. And yet, mixed in with the humor and the easy-to-digest prose is a brilliantly sketched exposure of what life is like for contemporary middle school boys. Readers of all ages will appreciate both the humor and the pain — and the brilliant and minimalist illustrations round out the reading experience by adding sly details which will make the avid reader want to flip back again and again.
Caveat: While some of Greg’s less-than-noble actions get him a deserved comeuppance, there is no overt moralizing in this book. The good are not always rewarded, nor are the guilty always brought to justice. This quality is often simultaneously perceived as refreshing by tweens and troublesome by some adult readers.