From Publishers Weekly
The third book in this genre-busting series is certain to enlarge Kinney's presence on the bestseller lists, where the previous titles have taken up residence for the past two years. Kinney's spot-on humor and winning formula of deadpan text set against cartoons are back in full force. This time, Greg starts off on New Year's Day (he resolves to "help other people improve," telling his mother, "I think you should work on chewing your potato chips more quietly") and ends with summer vacation. As he fends off his father's attempts to make him more of a man (the threat of military school looms), Greg's hapless adventures include handing out anonymous valentines expressing his true feelings ("Dear James, You smell"), attempting to impress his classmate Holly and single-handedly wrecking his soccer team's perfect season. Kinney allows himself some insider humor as well, with Greg noting the "racket" children's book authors have going. "All you have to do is make up a character with a snappy name, and then make sure the character learns a lesson at the end of the book." Greg, self-centered as ever, may be the exception proving that rule. Ages 8-12.
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For those wondering why tween boys don’t read very much, the answer is that more books aren’t like this. In this third (but not last, despite the subtitle’s implication) series entry, Greg Heffley, the Georgia Nicolson of American middle-school males, is just trying to get through life. In hilarious diary entries, he details his attempts to get along with his brothers; a potential romance; and his dad’s futile efforts to turn him into a jock, which reinforce Kinney’s well-realized theme that grown-ups just don’t get it. While diary may not be the most macho term, as Greg will be the first to tell you, the format certainly hooks the target audience with its printlike font, straightforward language, and copious cartoons. As the book opens, Greg is eschewing New Year’s resolutions: “It’s not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I’m already pretty much one of the best people I know.” And while it is clear to all that he is no saint, he is real, and many kids will agree with that self-assessment. Grades 5-8. --Andrew Medlar