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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

Greg Heffley stars in another round of journal entries illustrated with hysterically deadpan comics. He starts his year off, as many of us do, with a list of resolutions. But the thing is, Greg knows he's pretty near perfect just the way he is. So he decides he'll make resolutions for all those flawed people around him, starting with his mother and her noisy potato chip chomping. He's also keeping a watchful eye on his family's personal resolutions, such as his father's diet. Greg points out to him that sneaking brownies in the garage isn't exactly sticking to this resolution. Somehow, the family doesn't seem all that pleased with Greg's helpfulness.

Greg ponders how his Christmas presents were a total bust: "I guess once you're in middle school, grown-ups decide you're too old for toys or anything that's actually fun." Out of his gifts of mostly clothes and books, he scored a "Math is Rad" volume and a glorified laundry basket disguised as a basketball hoop. When he points out that he doesn't do laundry or even put it in a hamper because Mom crawls around on the floor gathering his dirty clothes, his mother informs him that from now on he'll be doing his own laundry. Now Greg is kind of glad he has so many new clothes, because his goal is to make it to summer vacation without washing one garment.

Little brother Manny is allowed to get up out of bed past his bedtime to join the family watching TV. This burns Greg up because with Manny present, he can't look at the shows he loves. Greg remembers how his father kept him from getting up at night --- by using the rather scary author photo of Shel Silverstein as a boogeyman threat: "If you get out of bed…you'll probably run into Shel Silverstein in the hallway." Of course, Manny doesn't have Shel Silverstein books. Manny gets such simplified picture books that Greg is inspired to write one himself, because after all, the only thing a successful storybook needs is a character with a memorable name who will learn a lesson. Thus Greg's masterpiece, "Wise Up, Mr. Shropsharp!", is created.

Greg's wimpy ways are being challenged by his dad, and this proves to be a huge problem for him. He lands on the soccer team, where he doesn't exactly shine (when he brags about being chosen as a "shag," he finds out that's the name for the kid who retrieves out-of-bound balls). What could be worse than soccer? Greg finds out when his father says those two dreaded words: "military academy." Gulp!

Jeff Kinney is dead on with his details about life as a middle school kid. It all rings so true: Manny's obsession with his binkie and his blankie; the amazing abilities of parents to humiliate; creative ways with term papers; Greg's relationships with his big/little brother and his best friend; and much more. The author adds the zaniest scenes (including a particularly unforgettable one set at the neighbor baby's "half birthday" party), a few unexpected plot twists and a plethora of Greg-centric comments on life.

I love funny books, but when reading them I rarely (externally) even crack a smile. However, I literally guffawed several times while reading THE LAST STRAW. In fact, I dare anyone to read it without laughing out loud. I don't recommend this title only for kids; adults who haven't read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series are missing out on a hilariously good time.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on January 1, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
by Jeff Kinney

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2009
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • ISBN-10: 0810970686
  • ISBN-13: 9780810970687