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VINE VOICEon January 16, 2009
This is an amazingly funny book. The Wimpy Kid series should not be confined to people under 18 so I highly urge adults to read all three as soon as possible. My sides hurt and yes, my eyes watered. The book is so funny and each one is better than the last which means The Last Straw is the funniest so far. The author has a knack of mentioning things that kids and kids who have gotten older can all identify with. It's great. My favorite scene in this book was the gym class in which middle school students are urged by their gym teacher and other teachers to dance the Hokey Pokey! What a nightmare! What fun! Rowley is the sad sack friend who is embarrassing to be with and makes a great stooge for our hero. Mom is supposedly "hip" and so uncool that she needs to be kept in the house and not let out for activities that involve being "with it". Dad can't stay on a diet and Greg's New Year's Resolution is telling everybody else what's wrong with them! Just a wonderful book and I think that we will see more of them. This is truly a classic series and too good just to be isolated in the kids' section. Adults get your "Young Adult" reading done now! My excuse? I teach middle school.
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on January 13, 2009
Fantastic - as much fun as the first three. I was a real-life wimpy kid and I did end up at West Point so this installment was even more fun for me. My daughter loves this series. Jeff Kinney delivers again - the "Diary" is so funny and fast-paced that even "reading wimps" can't put the book down. The format of fun cartoon drawings and true-to-life stories that kids & adults alike can relate to make this a must-buy for your young reader. (Or adults that didn't totally grow up)
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2009
Greg Heffley, star of the Wimpy Kid books, is back in his third outing and he's brought a super-sized bag full of giggles and belly laughs with him. Just like the previous two books, he's not taking prisoners. He attacks readers, kids and adults, with commonsensical and unadulterated observations on how the world should work from a kid's point of view.

Jeff Kinney, the author and illustrator of the series, still hasn't given up his day job as a computer game designer despite the fact that all three of his books have ended up on the New York Times bestseller list. I've read interviews with him and he talks about how much he loves the job. But thankfully he also enjoys writing about the times and troubles of Greg Heffley.

Much of today's 9 to 12 year old fiction centers around fantasy and magic. I enjoy a lot of those stories as well. Most kids do. But the grandest fantasy of all for a kid, and maybe for some of us who've never grown up, is our own lives. Kinney really understands that and presents Greg's story with honesty and a real imagining of the world.

You don't find magical weapons or quests in the Wimpy Kid books. Well, unless of course Greg happens to be playing a role playing game with his friends (and sometimes his mom, a story you'll find in the second book). What you do get is a wonderful look into a kid's world that young readers will instantly recognize as their own and older readers will remember going through.

The books don't really have plots. They meander through things and Kinney manages to link threads of stories, making gags play over and over again by raising the stakes or giving them subtle and sneaky twists. Greg's perception of self and his place in the world is amazingly dead on. Not only that, but the author hangs out his own dirty laundry (literally, when Greg goes to school and a pair of dirty underwear with his name on it falls out of his pants leg because he's too lazy to do his own laundry) on the pages.

My eleven year old, who discovered the books first, got dibs on reading the book. He was home sick for the day and I took him with me to get my weekly allergy shot. I knew the book was out, had to have it, and picked it up at a local bookstore. I also picked one up for my wife's coworker's daughter. I had to share the goodness.

Chandler started and finished the book on Tuesday, then went back and reread his favorite parts. Several times during both readings he would come get me and share something that was going on. Normally that would irritate me to a degree. I like to read books on my own, without previews. But the Wimpy Kid books can be read again and again. They're even better when you share them with other people. We've also been calling each other PLOOPY for the last couple of days. You'll have to read the book to understand that reference.

One of the themes that Kinney returns to again and again in the book is the relationship between fathers and sons. As a father of four sons myself, I know there can be a lot of misunderstandings and disappointments. On both sides. But this book, and I don't know if Kinney intended it on purpose, presents a great argument for both sides--as well as a chance to get to understand each other. Sons need to know that their fathers were once upon a time boys like themselves, and fathers need to remember what it's like to be a boy. Boys don't really know how everything works or why everything's not about them or how they're supposed to fit in the world. And fathers...well, actually I guess that doesn't change much. Kinney provides enlightenment and reminder in one great and funny package.

The trick that the author manages to pull off so well is the presentation of serious material in a slapstick environment. People just reading the books for humor will get that, but Kinney writes so honestly that readers can't help noticing how much real life is packed into the pages.

I loved Greg's plan to learn to become a jumping king by digging a hole three inches deep in his backyard then jumping out of it a hundred times. The next day he would dig the hole twice as deep and jump out of it a hundred times again. By the end of the fifth day, he hoped to be jumping like a kangaroo. Of course, any adult would realize this was ridiculous, but it only takes a father about five seconds and a good dose of honesty to realize that at Greg's age he would have believed the same thing.

My wife is fourth grade teacher. She was out of town on Wednesday, but when Chandler and I talked to her, we told her about getting the new Wimpy Kid book. She was appreciative of my getting a book for her coworker's daughter, but she also asked me why I didn't pick up a copy for her class. At the time, I didn't think about it because my son and I were so involved flipping through the pages. So that went on my To-do List. Her class loves these books as well and they're always gone from her classroom library.

I also told my allergy nurse about them. She has a six year old who is an aggressive reader and likes to draw. Chandler and I even showed her our copy of the book. She was going to pick them up on her way home.

I tell everybody with kids about these books. They're written in a journal format, complete with lined pages. The art doodles are fantastic, simple and compelling. They're also easy enough that they can inspire the budding artist in every young kid. Young writers and artists both get a good role model to follow in these books while trying to express their own talents.

The beauty of these books is that you don't have to read them in any particular order. You can pick up any one on an impulse buy and rest assured that you or your child will enjoy it. The first two are out in paperback, but I'd really recommend picking the books up in hardcover. These are books that will sit on your shelves for a long time and will be constantly reread. They're excellent gifts to give to other children or grandchildren.

One thing that my son noticed that I didn't is the fact that the books each cover a season. The first book centered on Greg going back to school for the new year. The second book led up to Christmas. And the third book covers from New Year's to the end of the school semester.

Kinney is contracted for at least five of the books. That leaves two more to come, but in a recent interview he stated that he may do as many as seven of the books. I hope so because I'll be sad to see the Wimpy Kid grow up and no longer share his adventures with us.
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on August 28, 2009
Parent Review:

Diary of a Wimpy kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney is the 3rd book in the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I've read all of the books in the series now. To be honest, I understand why kids are drawn to them but as an adult reading them all back to back they got a bit old. As I've shared in my reviews of the other books in the series, this is one of my son's favorite book series. My son who is 10, was so happy that I read the first book and when I finished it, he lined up book 2 and 3 in the series on my nightstand. It was nice to know what he was reading and talk about the books with him.

This book, continues the story of Gregory, a middle schooler who started writing a diary one summer when his mother bought him one. He's continued writing his stories and complementing them with comics. The comics definitely add a lighter, fun feel to the book and kids seem to love this part. Gregory continues to get himself into embarrassing situations and learns lessons the hard way. This book starts off on New Year's Day where he tries to help other people improve and then it ends at the start of summer vacation. His father seems to be a bit disappointed in his son's and the antics they get into. He decides that they need to learn how to be "men" and threatens to send Gregory to military school. Gregory ends up doing all he can to "bond" with his father and of course, ends up in many precarious situations and not at all what he intended in the first place. The book also details ways that Greg tries to get along with his brothers, his attempts to impress a girl named Holly in his class, and how Greg attempts to get through being placed on a soccer team he doesn't like. It's obvious in the book that Greg is doing all he can as a kid to get through life. He tends to be self centered and socially awkward and kids can definitely relate to that as well as the theme that grown ups really don't get it. I think that is a universal rule in childhood...Kids don't think that their parents or any grown ups "get it"!
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on December 27, 2013
Bought a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas for a 9 year old to encourage reading and this was the first book she wanted on it. The font would not change. I did chat sessions with Kindle and all the troubleshooting. It turns out the publisher has set the font and will not allow kindle to override the settings. So it's very difficult to read, especially for a child with some visual problems. According to Kindle support, most books can be changed, even when the publisher has set the font, but for some reason, this one will not allow that. Not good!
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on February 5, 2016
This book is exactly what I have been looking for! I bought all of the books in the set for my little brother, for Christmas, and I couldn't be happier with my find. All of the books were in brand new condition and the prices were unbeatable. I decided I had to get my brother the whole set for Christmas, since they are the only books that he's ever taken an interest in. In fact, not only was he interested in them, he was absolutely enthralled! From start to finish, I think he only put book #1 down to sleep. So, I thought he just has to have the rest of them one, so that he'll keep going. I'm so glad that I found these books.
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on January 9, 2016
Brought these for my 10 year old son years ago. He loves these books. He wanted the completed series ---- so one by one, we've collected the series. He's now 16 and still loves to read these books.
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on December 12, 2015
If you are already familiar with Diary of a Wimpy kid, you probably don’t need my review of this particular book because (honestly) it is just move of the same. If the quality has gone down between the books, my son hasn’t notices, and to me his continued interest is the most important thing. I suppose it would be best to start with book one, but my guess is that you could jump in anywhere without really missing anything. The books don’t seem to build on each other all that much.

In terms of the entire series, although the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books wouldn’t be my first choice in terms of literature, I give them 5 stars because my son absolutely loves them (has read them over and over again) and they are better and more educational than the Captain Underpants books that I used Diary of a Wimpy Kid books to wean him off. They expose young kids to somewhat sophisticated content and Vocabulary, and they get kids to enjoy reading. I also feel that they form a better bridge to more traditional books than a lot of the similar-styled alternative that are available.

One criticism I have is that (as I mentioned earlier) these books tend to lack any sort of story arc. The movies (if you are familiar with them) shifted events around to provide a story line and moral, but to me these books read more or less like just a bunch of events that happened, but since my kid thinks they are funny and keeps reading them I am fine with this. There is also the criticism that other people have made that the main character seems a little amoral, that he doesn’t make good choices and he doesn’t seem to recognize why some of his actions are bad or inappropriate. I suppose this is true, and if it is important to you that you have books where the protagonist serves as a perfect role model than this might not be the series for you. Again, I am not really bothered by it, because I figure that as a parent I can get my kids to understand when a character is acting well and when he is acting badly.

By the way, there is also a Diary of a Wimpy kid book (I forget its name right now) that discusses (in a child-oriented way) how the movies were made. My son loves that one as well, so if you are looking for something non-fiction you should really check it out.
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VINE VOICEon January 13, 2009
What a smart and funny book! I kept laughing out loud. I thought I only did that with Dave Barry books.

Like the earlier books, this latest installment of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series is formatted like an actual diary of a boy in middle school, with lined paper, hand-written text and doodles. There are no conventional chapters, but rather dated entries in chronological order.

The diary belongs to Greg Heffley, the self-professed "wimpy kid" of the title. He is much more than wimpy: he's articulate, self-centered, smart and very funny. In other words, he's a lot like middle-schoolers in general. It's no wonder this series is so popular with kids that age.

The Last Straw starts off with Greg getting lame Christmas gifts: a lot of clothes, a book called Math is Rad to help him with algebra, and deodorant. Later Greg tries to convince his frustrated dad not to send him to a military academy.

But really, talking about the plot is beside the point. The heart of this book is in the everyday things that happen to Greg, from him getting a melted Easter bunny all over his pants on the way to church -- "I must have sat on an ear or something" -- to being called a nerd for winning the Perfect Attendance Award in school.

I was charmed again by the cartoonish illustrations. These loose black-ink drawings are scattered throughout the text, at least one per page. Many pages have multiple illustrations. Greg draws what he talks about. The familiar cast of characters includes his family -- smart-aleck teenager Rodrick, tiny gnome toddler Manny, often-clueless parents -- and assorted friends, crushes, enemies, neighbors, teachers and relatives.

It's surprising how much emotion and subtlety can be conveyed by rubber-armed figures that talk with balloons over their heads.

I recommend this book to anyone who is now, or has ever been, a middle schooler. Everyone will be able to relate to it. We've all been there. Who hasn't felt like they've disappointed their parents, or didn't know how to talk to a cute classmate, or were mortified by some embarrassing incident in school? This book is for anyone who has not lived up to expectations.

As you laugh you'll be nodding your head in recognition.

The other Wimpy Kid books are:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
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on January 20, 2009
My 8YO son could not wait to get this book. There's lots of humor and interesting observations from a child's perspective. These books are written like a diary (like the title says). There is not much of a story line. That doesn't seem to matter. My son and his friends all think they are great. I like them because the kids enjoy them and I haven't seen anything that is not age-appropriate in the books. The simple style they are written in also makes them appealing. The illustrations look a lot like some of the artwork my son and his friends come up with. The kids seem to really relate to these books.

Your kid doesn't have to be a "wimpy kid" to enjoy these books. I think every kid feels like a "wimpy kid" sometimes and these books bring the feelings out into the open.

Great read, enjoy!
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