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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Fifth-grader Greg Heffley chronicles his life in what he hastily explains is a journal and NOT a diary (his mom bought him a journal titled "diary," to his humiliation). Cartoons on every page enhance his laugh-out-loud quest to become more popular than his current standing, at around 52nd or 53rd. Even though he has always liked girls, his history doesn't seem to help him much. He tries to explain the whole popularity game to his clueless best friend Rowley, who Greg estimates is probably around the 150th most popular kid in their grade, but to no avail.

Greg has other concerns. He wants to avoid the terrible Cheese Touch, which occurs when someone touches the ancient, moldy cheese blob on the basketball court and passes it along to someone else. Since the only way to prevent contamination with the Cheese Touch is to cross your fingers, Greg tapes his fingers crossed --- which results in a D grade in penmanship. ("…but it was totally worth it.") The Cheese Touch plays a part in a heartwarming yet unsentimental thread relating to Greg's friendship with Rowley.

Another big goal for Greg is to become wealthy. To that end, at Halloween Greg and Rowley sell tickets to their own Haunted House. After their pack-o-lies advertising blitz (their posters promise live sharks), kids shell out to enter their Hall of Screams. However, Greg and Rowley unfortunately run out of time to prepare, so the Hall of Screams turns out to be just a bed for the youngsters to crawl under --- and yet, the first kid to enter is so terrified, he can't come out and must be rescued by Rowley's not-exactly-happy father.

When the coach introduces a wrestling unit during physical education class, Greg decides that he's going to bulk up. His parents refuse to buy him expensive weight-lifting equipment until he proves he'll stick with a fitness program, so he fashions a weight set out of milk jugs and broomsticks. However, his bodybuilding routine is disrupted when his mother forces him to try out for the school play, which is "The Wizard of Oz." Although Greg sings very, very quietly during tryouts, the teacher singles him out as "a lovely soprano," causing great hilarity among the girls. The humiliation is almost too much to bear, especially when Greg gets picked to be a tree. His part entails speaking just one word during the entire play, which makes him grumble…until the teacher decides that the trees should sing the lamest song ever written. It does not bode well for the actual performance, to say the least.

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney perfectly nails the voice of a fifth-grade boy. Greg's (mis)adventures move along rapidly, with one hilarious scene after another, augmented with the equally hysterical comic illustrations. Since its release in April 2007, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID has proven itself to be a winner. This New York Times bestseller has appealed, and will continue to appeal, to middle-grade boys, including reluctant readers --- and is irresistible to adults as well.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on April 1, 2007

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
by Jeff Kinney

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2007
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • ISBN-10: 0810993139
  • ISBN-13: 9780810993136