Sunday, October 12, 2008

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Middle school has never been something I wanted to relive. It is really an awkward time for everyone, but Kinney turns it into a laugh-fest. This book had me laughing long after I read it. From the cheese touch to the Christmas thank you letters I could not get enough.
When reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid I really felt like I was reading a middle school student’s diary. Jeff Kinney wrote in junior high dialect. Greg’s reactions and his thought are the same as an actual student. His disregard for his family and others (when his grandmother’s house was toilet papered and he didn’t worry about it because she is retired so she probably didn’t have any plans anyway) is just like students in middle school. Honesty is big part of this book. Greg is honest about how he feels just like others of his age. Due to these aspects of the book I think students will really enjoy it. They can relate to it because they go though these trials and tribulations everyday and many of them think like Greg does in the book. Many people above the age of 13 might be turned off by a book that is relatable to teens, however this is not one of those books. People of all ages will laugh out loud at Greg’s ideas and how he carries them out. Such as when he wanted to run for treasurer because he thought that “could totally change my situation at school.” He made posters that told stories about the other candidate. “Remember in the second grade how Marty Porter had head lice? Do you really want him touching your money?” When the principal told him not to make up stories he said that one was actually true and it almost shut the whole school down. Hilarious. Students, teachers, parents, administrators and more will laugh at this book.
Another wonderful addition to this book is the illustrations. They add dimension to the story. Every time I read about one of Greg’s incidents I would look at the illustrations and just laugh harder. While it is not so much a graphic novel, I think it could be categorized more as an illustrated novel. When Greg has convinced his little brother that the ball of string in his hand is a spider the pictures just make that situation funnier. I also think the pictures will help middle school age students to imagine what is going on in the story. Depending on what reading level they may be on developmentally, this could be a step to the next level.
All in all this book made me laugh all the way through. Not just chuckle, I laughed out loud and then I read it to others and they laughed just as hard. This is what students need sometimes, to laugh. Just like Greg’s their lives are filled with the traumas of being in junior high (which I am not making light of, it really can be a traumatic place) and this book will help them realize that sometimes it is better just to laugh. I would give this book to any middle school student. I might even read it out loud to early high school students just for fun. This is a book I will definitely have on my bookshelf no matter what grade I teach.