Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel
Time to celebrate: Greg Heffley has returned with more hysterical antics! We might be wishing Greg had started keeping a journal earlier in his life. It turns out, we're not alone. Greg believes that the person who will be writing his biography one day will have a lot of questions about Greg's life before middle school. Luckily, Greg remembers back a ways...like to the time he was swimming around in the dark, waiting to be born. Those were good times, with Greg doing backflips and napping, until his mother decided to hook up some music to her belly. Her belly speakers also had a microphone, which led to his mother telling tiny Greg all about her life. When Dad gets in on the action, he contributes a detailed account of his (extremely boring) work day. When Greg hits middle school and there's a quiz on OLIVER TWIST, he wishes he had paid attention in those pre-birth days when Mom read classic books to her belly.
"Thankfully, [Jeff Kinney] appears to be a never-ending fount of wacky but ridiculously funny plot points accompanied by the perfect illustration notions...This is another absolute winner, with situations any kid (or used-to-be-kid) can relate to or be truly grateful he/she dodged."
Poor, poor Greg. As the second son, he had to endure many hand-me-downs. If you check out the label in his underwear, you can see Rodrick's name crossed out and Greg's name penned in. But at one time, he even ended up with his big brother's pacifier plunked from Rodrick's mouth directly into Greg's (at least according to Greg. I wonder what his mom would have to say about that story?)
Getting a little older did not improve Greg's family situation. Baby Manny came along, and no one ever found the blackened stub from his belly button after it fell off. Greg is still looking for that little item, which explains why he picks through his food before actually eating it.
However, all of the backstory of Greg's life is simply leading up to the important events of his current adventures as a middle-schooler. For example: His plan for world domination...or at least school domination. His attempts to use his best friend, Rowley, as a political pawn kind of succeeds, but nothing stops the students' political unrest, which happens to be centered on toilet paper. This toilet paper turmoil leads to Greg setting up a secret stash of T.P. in a boys' stall, which he manages to turn into a cozy little hideaway for himself (at least, temporarily). Meanwhile, students are bringing in so much toilet paper that they can't fit it all into their lockers and have to tote it around. This leads to toilet paper fights and the principal announcing each student can only bring in five squares a day. Of course, some students start smuggling in extra, so the teachers must check their backpacks every morning for double-ply contraband.
The Toilet Paper Problem is nothing compared to Greg's next huge middle school hurdle: the Valentine's Day dance. At first, the boys don't care about the dance, but when Candy Gram invitations to the event start arriving for the most popular boy, all of them are dying to receive one, including Greg. He gets some pointers from his slacker, mooching-off-the-family Uncle Gary, which leads to Greg receiving multiple Candy Grams, although none are exactly from the girl he hopes would send him one. Undaunted, Greg tries multiple schemes to attain a date. These efforts backfire, leaving Greg chagrined and his readers just plain grinning, if not actually laughing out loud.
I keep waiting for author Jeff Kinney to run out of creative ways to situate Greg in hilarious situations to no avail. Thankfully, the man appears to be a never-ending fount of wacky but ridiculously funny plot points accompanied by the perfect illustration notions. In fact, I think THE THIRD WHEEL is the funniest book in the series (but then, I always seem to think the most current Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the epitome of sidesplitting). This is another absolute winner, with situations any kid (or used-to-be-kid) can relate to or be truly grateful he/she dodged.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 25, 2012