Thursday, July 7, 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney

I'll admit it, folks. I laughed until I cried through the first half of this book--I mean it. I was wiping tears away and just cackling. I couldn't help it. Maybe I haven't progressed much since middle school. I can totally see why middle school boys (and even 4th and 5th graders) are into this series. Kinney has given us a cartoon novel (in which cartoons are interspersed with text) that is a quick read and right on a kid's level. In diary-format (well, the narrator Greg would remind us that this is a journal because diaries are girly), we read about Greg's life in sixth grade. Here's a sample from page 3:

"Let me just say for the record that I think middle school is the dumbest idea ever invented. You got kids like me who haven't hit their growth spurt yet mixed in with these gorillas who need to shave twice a day. [funny cartoon] And then they wonder why bullying is such a big problem in middle school."

See, it's funny!

And yet, by about 2/3 the way through, I was over it. The kid, Greg, is really a bit of a jerk and it stops being funny (at least to me). I'm not sure he learns how to be a true friend by the end. I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the series... at least not right away. Maybe when I need a good laugh after all the heavy young adult fiction.

Will your kids be scarred? No. Will they be exposed to bad stuff? Not really. Bad language? Nope. Sex/drugs/rock and roll? Nope (well, ok, some rock and roll). Good character? Nope.

The moral of the story: just space these out with more edifying fare, but don't bar them from your kids' recreational reading. I'm sure they have lured millions of reluctant male readers into the marvelous world of the book. They have their place, but don't let someone get stuck here.

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