Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, books 1 - 4, by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (book one)

If you haven’t heard about this series from your kids then I’ll assume it’s because you have none. Kinney’s series is hilarious and easily appreciated by adults as well as children. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. My husband would say, “Nothing can be that funny in a kids book. You can stop laughing now.” But Diary of a Wimpy Kid is so funny!

Greg Heffley is about twelve years old when he begins writing his journal – NOT to be confused with a diary. Greg documents many of the events that most middle school students experience or encounter: Halloween, the school musical, Christmas, running for student government, and the safety patrol. Throughout the text, Greg’s cartoons provide lots of laughter. Passages like the one below show Greg’s mischievous side and we are often left to wonder if he will ever learn from his blunders since he almost always gets caught.

“I finally figured out how to get some of my games past Rowley’s dad. I just put one of my discs in Manny’s ‘Discovering the Alphabet’ case, and that’s all it takes” (43).

Greg’s inability to see his faults, many of which we find in ourselves, draws readers to him. Greg is young and we expect him to make mistakes. But we know he’s good at heart.

Publisher: Amulet Books, 2007        Recommended Age: 9 and up
Source: Iowa City Public Library     Pages: 217
Rating: 4 stars

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (book 2)

Greg returns in Rodrick rules to continue entertaining kids and adults alike. In book two, Greg learns to get along with his older brother, Rodrick, which often means becoming an accomplice in his brother’s schemes. As usual, Greg tries to finagle events to his benefit. Greg even prepares contingency plans in case things go wrong. And when his plans backfire, reader laughter ensues. Laugh page after page while Greg tries desperately to keep Rodrick from telling the world his biggest most embarrassing secret. If you’ve ever had a bullying older brother or annoying younger sibling, then you’ll know just what Greg Heffley is going through.
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2008        Recommended Age: 9 and up
Rating: 4 Stars                                    Pages: 217

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (book 3)

In The Last Straw, book three in the Wimpy Kid series, Greg pushes his luck as far as he can. His antics have finally caught his dad’s attention. So, Greg tries to impress his dad but always seems to fall a little short of expectations. As usual, the cartoons are just as important as the text. Both formats are meant to be read together. And together, the cartoons and text yield rolling laughter. Book three is another quick and fun read - something you can pick up when you've only got a few minutes to read here and there.
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2009     Recommended Age: 9 and up
Source: IC Public Library              Pages: 217
Rating: 4 Stars
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (book 4)

Dog Days is the fourth (and currently last) book of the Wimpy Kid series. Greg’s family can’t afford a regular vacation this summer so Greg must learn to occupy and entertain himself in his hometown. He and his best friend, Rowley, have a falling out and Greg ends up drifting in the public pool for a long time before they get back together. This separation was sad since Greg and Rowley’s antics were a central feature in the other books. I missed seeing their relationship. Also, Greg becomes slightly distant from his family in the fourth book and I missed seeing more of his brothers. Overall, Dog Days is still funny, but it didn’t have much new to offer and relied a lot on the previous books’ jokes to fill the gaps. I hope Kinney writes one more Wimpy Kid book to end on a slightly higher note.
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2009      Recommended Age: 9 and up           Source: IC Public Library
Rating: 3 Stars Pages: 217

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