Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Calling All Wimpy Kids!

--by Hanje Richards

If you are between ages 8 and 13 and haven’t discovered Greg Heffley and his diaries yet, you are in for a treat! Author and illustrator Jeff Kinney does a masterful job of making the mundane life of boys on the brink of adolescence hilarious. Greg is a conflicted soul (and what middle-schooler isn’t): he wants to do the right thing, but the constant quest for status and girls seems to undermine his every effort.

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.” Greg also wants to make one thing clear: this is NOT a diary—it’s a journal. And it’s his mother’s idea for him to chronicle his life as a tortured sixth-grader, not his.

The pages look like they were written and drawn by a middle school student and the angst with which our hero approaches his life and his daily adventures is all part of the charm of this series.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal (J FIC KINNEY DIARY GREG) - 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.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (J FIC KINNEY DIARY RODRICK) - Secrets have a way of getting out, especially when a diary is involved. As Greg enters the new school year, he’s eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular. Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (J FIC KINNEY LAST) - This time, Greg starts off on New Year's Day (he resolves to "help other people improve," telling his mother, "I think you should work on chewing your potato chips more quietly") and ends with summer vacation.