Diary of a Wimpy Kid
London, Puffin, 2007, 217p
It has gotten to the point where I cannot avoid reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books any longer. All the students at my school are talking about it. Every day, someone asks me if there are any copies available. They are swept from the shelves within moment of being returned. It is the most popular series in my school.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the diary of Greg Heffley. He is starting middle school in America, and recounts the details of his youth. The story isn't complex or dramatic, but it's easy to relate to. Greg is awkward and unpopular. He isn't particularly attractive or incredibly smart. He's the middle child - his older brother bullies him, whilst his younger brother is revered by his parents. His best friend, Rowley, is a bit embarrassing, but he's loyal.
There isn't any romance or any great confrontation with the school bully. Greg just drifts through his school days, aimlessly getting by. He's ambitious - part of the reason he writes his diary is so that people can read it when he becomes famous. But at school, he's a bit of a nobody.
I think that's part of the reason it appeals so much to young readers. Even the most reluctant students will give it a go. I love seeing young people talk about the characters and events, like they might talk about their favourite celebrities lives. Girls and boys love the stories equally, defying the rule that girls want books about female characters. Greg is normal and real - he makes mistakes, but he's never so naughty it's unbelievable.
I don't imagine many parents read the same books their children are reading, but I do recommend this one. There are brilliant moral lessons about friendship and honesty, and Kinney emphases the values that any parents would want to see shine through in their children. This series shows that there is nothing wrong with being a nobody.