on August 14, 2010
As a (more mature) 13 year old, I thought this book was genuinely funny. However, unlike younger kids, I've already established what is right and wrong. Cheating, lying, manipulating, and acting dumb "just to get less work" is all in this book, and when my younger eight year old brother reads this, I get paranoid of what exactly he's picking up. He doesn't seem to want to go to a gifted program at school, thinks less of school, and I think it is because of this book! To older audiences, Greg is a very interesting character (which is the prevelant reason why the series is so popular) but he is one of the most irresponsible fictional characters I have come across in a long time. And since the story is told from HIS viewpoint, it even makes it worse! His mind thinks of the all the previously mentioned things to be perfectly fine. I would absoluetly not recommend this book to...more vulnerble kids.
On the plus side, the novel IS truely funny, with its charming digital drawings and witty main character- who keeps the story lively (ignoring his bad influence) throughout the entire book.
on August 5, 2008
If there was an "IT" book of 2008 in the school where I teach 5th grade, forget about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; it had to be Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Book orders could not send copies fast enough. Book stores could not restock their shelves quickly enough. Everywhere I turned I was met by a student with his or her nose buried in its pages. So naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about.
Greg Heffley is your everyday, run-of-the-mill, middle school "wimp". Sure, someday he's going to amount to something big, but for now, he's "stuck in middle school with a bunch of morons." Greg's journal, not "diary", but "journal", takes us through the hilarious events that make up Greg's days in his first year of middle school. Lucky for us, whether it's avoiding his older brother Rodrick, or abusing his best friend Rowley, Greg's days are never short on laughs.
I can't remember the last time I laughed this hard when reading a book. There are laughs on every page, literally. Greg's mudslinging student council posters, Greg and Rowley's failed attempt at a haunted house, the students' wrestling unit in PE ("muscles are gross"), and Christmas time at the Heffley home. Situations like these that Greg finds himself in are comical enough, but it's his voice and commentary that sets this book apart. Jeff Kinney has cleverly captured the inner workings of a middle school student, and because of this book's popularity, it's obvious that students connect with Greg.
However, that's also what scares me about this book. I'm afraid that Kinney is too smart for his own good and without realizing it, has created a lovable character that advocates laziness and using your best friend for his family's money and his video games. Beneath all the laughs, Greg is a deceitful, selfish, jerk of a boy and the fact that students relate to him so easily doesn't sit well with me. I admit, I laughed hysterically at Kinney's tongue-in-cheek irony, but I'm an adult. I can tell the difference between Greg the character being serious and Jeff the author being sarcastic. I'm not so sure all the kids reading this will be able to.
I'm torn though. This book is funny and relevant and I guess if children are excited about reading it, then who am I to complain. Any time children WANT to read, it's a good thing, and I commend Kinney for this. He's discovered a great medium to tell his stories. The pictures only add to the humor and the journal format makes for an easy read. I think most of my students would be able to distinguish between Greg's selfish behavior and acceptable, respectful behavior, and if they don't, eh . . . kids will be kids. Either way, I have a feeling that Kinney is going to be around for a while. I may be better off enjoying the laughs.
on July 14, 2011
My review title says it all! And I'm glad I ordered it on Amazon, which cost less than ten dollars while the same movies in stores everywhere are running as high as $20. Some critics here tend to think the book is better than the movie, but until you've seen the poor kid running through an old folk's home in nothing but his UNDERWEAR and the hilarious pranks pulled against each other, y'all have no right to judge! I laughed like crazy from beginning to end. Some days, it feels so good to laugh and these movies will do it for you! Hope they make more of them. I enjoyed this movie a lot!
on December 8, 2007
I learned of this book in my University of Maryland alumni magazine and I'm very glad I did. The author, Jeff Kinney, wrote a popular comic strip called "Igdoof" in the early 90's for the Maryland student newspaper, the Diamondback. His comic alone made me look forward to each new issue of the paper and I continued to seek it out even after I graduated to read Kinney's comic.
From what I understand, he fought to get the strip syndicated after he graduated, but it never happened- presumably because his somewhat simplistic and crude artistic style is nothing like what you see in the daily comics sections. I had often wondered what became of Kinney, whose considerable talent should not be going to waste, so I was happy to pick this book up once I discovered it.
The book, likely written for kids at or above a fifth or sixth grade reading level, was better reading for a 37 year old than I could have possibly imagined. Kinney picks up right where he left off with the Igdoof strip with the very same humor and art that made me enjoy it so much. The book was laugh-out-loud funny throughout and I would recommend it to not only kids, but anyone who can appreciate humor books. I wish Jeff all the success in the world and look forward to reading more of his works-- he has really found his calling.
The world has not yet invented a method of finding the best webcomics currently available on the Internet for kids. So basically, for every twenty low-quality/poorly thought out amalgamations of crap, you get one bright shining star. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the webcomic, was one such star. The only conclusion I can really draw at this point is that somebody at Abrams is a friggin' genius for plucking the comic up and making it into a book. Now normally I don't like to separate titles into "girl books" and "boy books", but Jeff Kinney has written such a marvelous "boy book" that for every parent that walks in the door of my library I'm going to be cramming this title into their arms. Heck, I'll slip it into their purses if I have to. This book is going to reach its intended audience whether I have to wrestle skeptical parents to the floor with it clamped firmly in my teeth. Want to transfer your Captain Underpants lovers from graphic novels to fiction? This book won't do that. It's just something that every single person will get a kick out of.
First things first. Boys do not have diaries. Girls have diaries. Let's get that straight cause things could get messy if we don't. Basically, what we have here are the gathered thoughts and memories of Greg Haffley. Greg's got a pretty average life, all things considered. His older brother is a jerk, his younger brother annoying, his best friend a doofus, and his parents perfect dweebs. To top it all off, Greg's been thrown into his first year of middle school and things are really weird. Suddenly friendships are shifting and Greg's not sure who he wants to be. Add in some haunted houses, wrestling, downhill games involving bodily injury, forbidden cheese, and basic family fears and you've got yourself one heckuva debut.
I should specify that in spite of the fact that this book is based on a webcomic, it's not a graphic novel. Not really. Comic illustrations appear on every single page and complement the storytelling, but this is really more a (what's the term again?) illustrated novel. What this appears to be, more than anything else, is a notebook that's been written in by hand with the occasional cartoony illustration here and there for effect. It never breaks up into panels or long illustrated periods. There are just tasty little comic treats on each and every page.
Now the term "laugh-out-loud funny" is not to be bandied about. When I say that something is "laugh-out-loud funny" I don't want to be talking titters, mild chuckles, or undersized, underfed guffaws. I want to describe something so amusing that you think about it later and start laughing in an embarrassing manner on the subway. Jeff Kinney gave me that more than once. There was the moment when Greg's trying to get out of performing as an apple-throwing tree in his school's production of, "The Wizard of Oz." He thinks that maybe if he screws up what he has to say, that might be his out. "But when you only have one word to say, it's really hard to mess up your lines." The next thing we know, "Dorothy" has picked an apple and Greg's trying out a tentative, "Owwwchhh?" Oh! And the form thank you letters! Greg figures out that he says basically the same thing to all his relatives. So he just cranks out a form letter and fills in the details. This works great until he gets to something like, "Dear AUNT LORETTA, Thank you so much for the awesome PANTS! How did you now I wanted that for Christmas? I love the way the PANTS looks on my LEGS! All my friends will be so jealous that I have my very own PANTS." I think I was laughing over this for a good three hours after I read it.
There's something particularly charming about Kinney's illustration/cartoons too. The lines are incredibly clean and precise, even as they are showing some pretty raucous stuff. Kinney's grasp on visual gags is without comparison. At one point Greg happens to mention that if you "mess up in front of Dad" (i.e. kick over your little brother's toys maliciously) he'll throw whatever he has in his hands at you. We then see two shots of Greg misbehaving. The first is labeled, "GOOD TIME TO SCREW UP:" and shows him kicking over some blocks while his dad is holding the newspaper. The second reads, "BAD TIME TO SCREW UP:" and shows him doing it while his dad is cementing together a brick wall. Comedy gold, people! The comics are drawn over lined paper, making the whole enterprise really feel as if you're poring through someone else's journal.
And for all that, the writing's not too shabby. When Greg talks about week-ends he says, "The only reason I get out of bed at all on weekends is because eventually, I can't stand the taste of my own breath anymore." Been there. Tasted that. Kinney's able to point out all kinds of funny school details we adults may have forgotten, but that kids will recognize instantly. For example, why should you tell kids that "It's great to be you," when a lot of people really should think about changing themselves? We see two bullies shoving some poor kid down at this point yelling, "It's great to be me!," you you have to concede the point. I mean, Kinney remembers what it was like to roll a really big snowball and then see that you were ripping up the grass on your lawn in the process. No one remembers that! Characters are also lovingly delineated, not only in words, but in their little comic illustrations. Take as your example the character of Greg's fellow student and neighbor Fregley. Fregley is weird. So how would you, as the writer/cartoonist, convey this? You might want to have him say things like, "Wanna see my secret freckle?". You might draw him with a mouth wider than his head. You might have him stabbing kites in his front yard, shirtless. For a start, anyway. Every character in this book feels real. Even Greg's annoying, practically mute, little brother.
And so much more. Such as the name of Greg's older brother's band. Loaded Diaper, only it's spelled "Loded Diper" with an umlaut over the "o". Greg suspects his brother thinks that it really is spelled that way. And there are the small failures and triumphs of your average pre-adolescent. No one in their right mind would ever want to return to the days of Middle School, but if Jeff Kinney keeps churning out books like this one, I'll follow him there any day of the week. This title has already been getting some pretty choice reviews here and there. Can I make a nomination for funniest children's book of 2007? Consider it a necessary purchase.
on October 11, 2012
This book makes bad behavior seem funny and hence encourages young children to emulate the behavior. I hoped and hoped and hoped the the boy would see the error of his ways but he doesn't. He allows his friend to "take one for the team" when he doesn't come clean about terrorizing the kindergarteners. He thinks its ok that Grandma's house got TPed for something he did becuase she's retired and has nothing better to do then clean up the mess anyway. At every turn this kid makes the wrong choices, blames someone else, hopes he won't get caught next time and there are no real consequences for his actions. His last little act of kindness, at the end of the book, did nothing to make up for all the poor choices he made throughout the book. Would not recommend unless you actully plan to read it with your child and explain why how this kid acts is wrong and discuss what a better choice may be.
on November 21, 2012
My 7YO son has read a few books from the series and thinks they're funny, but he's started behaving more like Greg, most noticeably in what he calls people or how he describes and talks to girls. (Do I really want him calling his infant niece "hot"? I think not.) The main character, while sometimes funny, lies, manipulates, underachieves, sneaks, disrespects his parents, and isn't even that great a friend. My son reads these snippets and, because they're in graphic form and described humorously, doesn't check to see whether Greg's actions are right or wrong or hurtful to another person (neither does the main character, really)--instead, he innocently imitates Greg's way of doing things. In a way, Greg becomes a hero to him, but perhaps one not so worthy of his admiration. So while the books have a creative concept and may be okay for middle school and up, the subject matter and flaws of the main character make them not so great for more impressionable younger readers.
on January 9, 2012
Just because 386 people gave it 5 stars doesn't mean it's quality. It just means they liked it. You need to know what you're looking for in a book. High quality literature has the capacity to enrich and transform people's lives; that is why we there are books considered "timeless" and "classic." If children do not know how to appreciate good literature, it's because we're not teaching them well enough, not because we shouldn't expect them to appreciate it. This is the junk food of books for children: immediately satisfying, yet in the end, a pollutant, causing distaste for that which helps them in the end. This is shallow, simple writing that actually discourages intellectual curiosity, and makes other books seem "boring." I wholeheartedly disagree with the statement that it turns "reluctant readers" into readers; the only thing it has done to my reluctant readers (I am a fifth grade teacher) is make them whine about reading anything else. We need to be wise about our choices with what we "feed" our children's mind just as much as their bellies; both can either be fruitful and life-giving, or actually lower their quality of life.
on December 14, 2009
The main character in this book, Greg, is not what I expected - he is not a wimpy child that is picked upon by the other students. In many of the episodes related here, Greg is the person who is doing the bullying. Greg torments his younger brother, chases small children with worms, throws apples to disrupt the school play and treats his "friends" shamefully.
In his blog, Jeff Kinney, the author/artist, says that "Greg is self-centered and he can be kind of clueless. I don't think he is a bad kid, necessarily; but like all of us, he has his faults... I think that stories with characters who always do the right thing are a little boring." The problem is that Greg NEVER does the right thing, he IS a bad kid. He is mean, selfish, lazy and pretty stupid too. I kept waiting for the moments of redemption, when he apologized for his actions, or attempted some kind of restitution for his bad behavior. But Greg is unrepentant throughout, Jeff Kinney never lets Greg show the least amount of courage; Greg has no conscience. Greg is impossible to like.
I happen to just finish reading a novel called "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" which features another young protagonist, the eleven year old Morris Bird III. Morris is not perfect, he steals, he skips out of class - but Morris DOES have a conscience, he is a real likable character. The contrast between Morris and Greg is dramatic. One boy you can cheer for, the other is a hopeless delinquent.
The only reason I did not give this book a single star is that Kinney has done a marvelous job with his artwork. Using deceptively simple line art, Kinney manages to impart personality and unique facial features on each of his characters. All of the actors are immediately recognizable, its just too bad that none of them are likable.
Try covering up the artwork on a few pages, and just read the words, and you will realize how the drawings make the whole book palatable. If the line art is deleted, and you read the text only, you would realize how awful Greg is. Ugh.
on November 25, 2012
Terrible book. Completely agree it is mental junk food. Comic books are better natured. I randomly flipped through the second book. It begins with complaints about mother father (for having his son on the swim team). It brags about low achievements in school. Later, he steals monopoly money from a friend to fool his mother into giving him extra real money because she uses that "mom money" for an allowance. He lies to her saying he'd like to exchange some funny money for money to "buy stamps to write my pen pal"- a complete lie to his mother. I could go on had I ot tossed both books in the recycling bin. Essentially this should be entitled "Diary of a Sociopath who Should be in Family Therapy."
If you feel you'd like your kid identifying with loser, loners, outsiders who, like most sitcom and movie kids, dislike their fathers and mothers, and you'd like to justify that in your kid's mind, by all means pile more money on this exploitative author and reward his "misfit mental junk food" empire.