Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel in Cartoons by Jeff Kinney is one of those rare novels that captures the imagination with wit, slapstick comedy and a modicum of outright farce. The book was designated as a New York Times Best Seller.
Kinney organizes the book around a daily diary centering on a group of students in middle school. The pictures include cafeteria brawls, a loaded diper (diaper) truck and oversized gifts under the Christmas tree.
The text has all sorts of witty sayings by the students. For instance, middle schoolers are supposed to say “hang out” instead of “play.” In addition, the school distinguishes between gifted and ordinary students by the assigned readings. Gifted students read books like Einstein as a Child; whereas, average students read the easy books like Bink Says Boo. At one point, a student rationalizes a new organization for the middle school. He proposes that grade levels be determined by height and not age.
Kinney presents a farce during Halloween eve when one parent is seen hiding behind the bushes with a trash can filled with water. As soon as the older kids pass by, he jumps out from behind the bushes and drenches the kids.
In another episode, Kinney demonstrates why joining the safety patrol is so popular in school. Ostensibly, students are protected from bullies by being together in small groups. In addition, students on patrol receive a free pass from pre-algebra equal to about half the class period.
In a third, students play the part of a tree in a school play. The reason is to avoid memorizing lines to perform before a large audience. The part proves difficult to play because there are no arm holes on the tree costumes.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an unusual book that turns back the hands of time to the middle school experience. During this stage of life, students are just beginning to experiment with the teen scene. The author captures very realistically the ups and downs of the typical teen with slapstick comedy and wit. The presentation will appeal to students everywhere, as well as parents and teachers.