First of all, let me get something straight: This is a JOURNAL, not a diary. I know what it says on the cover, but when Mom went out to buy this thing I SPECIFICALLY told her to get one that didn’t say “diary” on it. [...] Great. All I need is for some jerk to catch me carrying this book around and get the wrong idea. [...] The other thing I want to clear up right away is that this was MOM’S idea, not mine. [...] But if she thinks I’m going to write down my “feelings” in here or whatever, she’s crazy. So just don’t expect me to be all “Dear Diary” this and “Dear Diary” that. (p. 1)
Initially, it was not my intention to read the books. When I saw it on sale at Wal-Mart, I figured I might as well give it a shot. And OH JOY! Such sweet joy! I was glad I came across Jeff Kinney’s four-going-five-maybe-six-or-seven book series. Aside from the ridiculous albeit funny diary entries of protagonist Greg Heffley, Kinney’s wonderful cartoon art pairs perfectly with the story.
In a nutshell, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series chronicles the misadventures (and misfortunes) of Greg Heffley who at the time has just set foot in middle school. One thing I love about the series is the ‘handwritten’ entries of Greg. It adds a personal touch to the diary aspect, thus making him a more credible weaver of tales.
The series currently has 4 books, with a 5th one coming out in November 9th (which is right around the corner!). I suppose it pays to be creative because not only is Jeff Kinney a cartoonist, he also happens to be a developer on Pearson’s Funbrain educational games site. This explains why, as stated in the Wimpy Kid’s official website, the series started off as a web comic strip in http://www.funbrain.com/ in 2004.
Each book is, coincidentally, 224 pages long. Every page is so downright hilarious that I could not single out a favorite from the series. Diary of a Wimpy Kid has all the ingredients that make up middle school life – popularity contests, bullies, talent shows, athletic programs, harder academic challenges, sleepovers, and school clubs, among others.
Greg is on the threshold of elementary life, a period in which family support is very much needed. Unfortunately, Greg happens to be a Heffley, and the Heffleys tend to fall on the wacky side. Being a middle child does not help him, either. On the one hand, he had to put up with his own rock-star-wannabe brother’s bullying; on the other hand, he had to be on the lookout for his baby brother’s antics that usually turn against him (Greg). Manny reminds me of Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, minus the craziness. (Okay, so maybe Manny can be overwhelming at times, too. Still, he is not as over-the-top as Stewie.)
The books had a lot of stereotypes (Rowley being in the likes of Patrick Starr in Spongebob Squarepants). Then again, Jeff Kinney got his inspiration from his own recollection of the growing pains of middle school life.
For review purposes, I would have to say that one of my favorite parts in the book was that in which Greg was explaining when it’s a good time and a bad time to annoy his father. I only have one reason why I like the stuff I like in the books: they’re laugh-out-loud funny. For someone who easily gets amused, it is no wonder that I was (almost) rolling on the floor while reading Greg’s diary. You see, the entries and illustrations go hand in hand, and that’s where I think the magic in Jeff Kinney’s creation comes from. Besides, there is something in cartoon art that always tickles my funny bone.
In a video interview by Barnes & Noble, Jeff Kinney stated that “the idea for Diary of a Wimpy Kid was actually born of failure” since he wanted to be a newspaper strip cartoonist. But we all know that failure is the mother of success. One thing leads to another and – voila! – Jeff Kinney’s brainchild, an ALA Notable Book, won this year’s Favorite Book Series in Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and was voted as 2010’s Most Favorite Book in the World. To date, the series has been published in about 29 languages! It was even turned into a movie! (The books are better, IMHO.) To view Jeff Kinney’s guest appearance in MSN’s Today Show, visit http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/28691810#28691810.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series that caters to kids aged 11-13 years. However, I highly recommend these books to people of all ages. For one, the books are funny (and I can only emphasize it so much). Also, grownups will see bits and pieces of themselves at a time when middle school is the place to be.