'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Author: Jeff Kinney

Publisher: Puffin, $14.95 RRP

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780143303831

For ages: 6+

Type: Junior Fiction

About: Having to repeatedly retrieve this book from my young son's school bag in an attempt to get through it for review, is testament to the fact that kids love this Wimpy Kid. Only seven-years-old, this is the first major junior fiction book Riley has consistently worked his way through - and that's something considering the quite sophisticated linguistic nature of the book, despite its liberal peppering of stick figure illustrations.

And what's wrong with a stick figure illustration, I ask you? I've admitted more than once to a total addiction to Archie comics in my time and that addiciton not in the least bit compromised my capability of devouring great hulking historical and Shakespearean tomes once I passed the 18 year mark.

Basically, you can't argue with the New York Times Bestseller List and Wimpy Kid has kinda been known to hang out on that list - frequently. And there's a reason why. The book is good.

What I like most about Diary of a Wimpy Kid is that it's actually really funny, and being that American humour is often very different to our Brit-derived dry humour, I was consistently impressed to find myself reading and reading and giggling with nary an eye-roll necessitated by predictable slapstick.

Greg Heffley is a kid on the brink of high school - and he's soon thrown headlong into the terrifying corridors of tween/teen society, resplendent with all manner of kid - from wimpy to jock. Alas, Greg falls into the former category. Luckily, he has his dorky mate Rowley as an emotional standby, but as Rowley's popularity slowly starts to climb, Greg is left flailing in a sea of morons.

When Gregs' mum hands him a journal (NOT a diary!), the lad soon fills it with his lamentations on high school being the dumbest thing ever invented and how meekly he fits into the popularity line up (starting out at roughly no. 52 or 53, by his own calculations). As his story unfolds - from September through to June - we soon learn why he rates around 52... and why this ranking is, like, SO unfair.

From Halloween shenanigans to Year Book atrocities, following Greg's year long journey is a riot a minute - not only from the cleverly written text but the abundance of hilarious cartoons that pepper the funny with even more funny. I'm talking laugh out loud and re-reading aplenty here. Even the style of the author's line drawings will have you giggling, with many a teen stereotype resplendantly inked and guffawed over.

I zipped through Wimpy #1 in about an hour (mainly due to many re-reads) and dove straight into #2, and although the funny in this book is a major hook, it was also fabulous to take note of the frequent sophisticated prose that kids will absorb even without knowing it.

Sophisticated may not be a word many associate with the Wimpy Kid books, but Kinney writes with a sophistication that belies the books' style... funny and super smart. Now that 'aint in the least bit wimpy.

Author website

This book is available online