Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series

Jeff Kinney

Boys don't keep diaries-or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It's a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you're ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

Author/illustrator Jeff Kinney recalls the growing pains of school life and introduces a new kind of hero who epitomizes the challenges of being a kid. As Greg says in his diary, "Just don't expect me to be all 'Dear Diary' this and 'Dear Diary' that." Luckily for us, what Greg Heffley says he won't do and what he actually does are two very different things.

My Take: 

These books were absolutely hilarious!  I blew right through them, not just because it was a kid's series, but I couldn't wait to see what happened next.  The main character is not necessarily the most likable character, but for some reason you love him anyway.  He can be quite selfish, but I think that this helps kids to understand that some of the things they do can hurt people, even if they didn't necessarily mean to.  I think these books provide not only entertainment, but a little comfort, because so many kids get picked on, it would be good for them to read these books, and be able to laugh along, feel like someone understand how they feel.  I also see these books are good "gateway books", which are books you get your kids to read to get them interested in reading in general.  These are goofy, and don't really have  much intellectual merit (in fact the main character is obsessed with video games and would rather die than read a book) but they show kids that contrary to popular belief, the written word can be fun and interesting.  You get them started on books like this, next time something a bit more intellectually stimulating, and so on until your kid is loving classics like Treasure Island, and they didn't even see the change.  I give these books a 2, Use a Coupon at Borders.  Your kids will love them, and you just might find yourself sneaking a peek too.  Don't take them too seriously, they are meant to be fun, and enjoyed, so enjoy them!

Do you agree with my review?  Do you think I'm totally off base?  Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!

Looking for something a little older?  Check out the Teen Section of The Book Buff.

If this series were a movie, it would likely be rated G, because there is nothing suggestive, or adult in nature in these books.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing them from these links!


Lynn said...

I'm thinking of buying this for my nephew but I'm not sure if it's any good... your review is very helpful, thanks!

The Book Buff said...

I'm glad my review was helpful, I'm planning on getting the books for my nephew as well (I'm going to Amazon, they have great prices) Hope you come back again soon!

Aaron Mead said...

While I agree that Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a funny book, I'm actually pretty worried about it as something that shapes the character of children. The central problem is that Kinney has us laughing at—and so wanting more of, and implicitly approving of—the mean things Heffley says and does, and his self-serving attitudes. The question is, should tweens—whose moral character is in relatively early stages of formation—be laughing at these things? My worry here is that the book just reinforces, and subtly leads us to approve of, a certain self-centered negativity that ought to be purged of pre-teens, not anchored all the more deeply via repeated and pleasurable reinforcement.

Okay, okay, I hear the objections already: “Isn’t this just puritanical paranoia? What’s wrong with a little frivolous fun? Couldn’t the book just be like junk food, i.e., okay once in while but not as one’s steady diet?” Reply: there is nothing wrong with frivolous fun. The problem is, reading books like this isn’t frivolous fun. Think of it this way: as a parent, would you like your son to be best friends with Greg Heffley? My answer is clearly, “No.” Why? Because our friends influence who we become, the choices we make, the attitudes we take—in short, our character—and I do not want my kids to have Heffley’s character. And I don’t think it is a reach to say that the characters in books we enjoy become our friends for a season—and perhaps for a long and influential season if the book is one in a series. (Hence the disanalogy with junk food: if you buy this book for your kids, they will “eat” it all the time.) Indeed, I know people who have become more emotionally attached to fictional characters than they are to the real people in their lives. So, while it is funny, I think we also need to consider whether it is good for children.

Final objection: “This book can help non-readers—particularly boys—to become readers.” While I agree that non-readers may well read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the question is, what exactly does that accomplish? I’m skeptical that such a book is going to help any child graduate to literature that is actually worth reading. By my lights, this book is no better than a funny but corrosive TV show in that respect (though it is considerably more creative than most TV shows). If we want to help non-readers to become readers—an extremely worthwhile goal—we need to do better than Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

The Book Buff said...

I'll admit, while I was reading the books, I thought the kids might also find his behavior acceptable, so I did some research with the many kids I come in contact with to ask them what they thought of Greg's behavior. The impression I got from them was that they recognized how selfish he was, and they saw it as more of a lesson on how not to act. I think most kids recognize his behavior is not good, and learn from it.

As for your final objection, I wanted to clarify my intentions. I believe this book to be an introduction to books, to show the kids the it is possible for the written word to be fun. I don't think it is good for them to read only these books forever, then they aren't learning much. Gradually you get them into more and more accomplished literature. For example, my nephew wasn't really much of a reader. He started reading these books and enjoyed them. He developed a liking for reading through these books, now I've got him reading The Borrowers and Peter Pan, more classic children's literature. Like I said in my post, its kind of a "gateway book" it just opens the door and allows you to introduce them to classics.

I very much appreciate your comments. I always enjoy a difference of opinion, it's what makes America great! It seems you really have a passion for books, and I really admire that, as you can see, I share that passion!

Jaclyn_23 said...

i've read this, a really nice book. it's really funny :D

The Book Buff said...

I thought these book were hilarious too! I'm glad you liked them :)

Holly Jahangiri said...

My son has enjoyed all of the books. To Aaron: I hear you. I had issues with the Captain Underpants series when it came to spelling and attitude. But you know what? If it gets my son reading, and gives us something to talk about, it's good in my book. Gives parents a chance to compare and contrast the values they teach with the values illustrated. There's a whole real world out there that we can't control - but we can talk to our kids again and again and again. I'm really not at all worried that Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a stronger influence than I am. :)

My son also enjoyed the Percy Jackson novels, hated the movie, and learned from it that books usually ARE better than movies (a lesson that's definitely worth the ticket price at a movie theater - AND popcorn - in my book).

He's currently reading The Wave, and just finished Tom Sawyer, and actually read parts of Gone with the Wind today. I'm really not too worried.

The Book Buff said...

You have just demonstrated exactly what I am talking about in regard to gateway books! Your son started off with captain underpants, and is now venturing out into Gone With the Wind! Thank you!


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