20 December 2007

What I am Reading--Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I've heard so many great things about this book, that when I finally managed to get my hands on a copy, I grabbed it. (It's so popular at work that one copy was not enough. I bought a second copy, and I rarely see that one, either.) Books told in diary format (is there a word for that? Like 'epistolary' for stories told with letters?) are as old as the novel itself. But unlike those early books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has its own website, where readers can follow the adventures of Greg Heffley (not all of which have appeared in the book.)

Anyway, "Diary" was not really what I expected. Perhaps I fell into the "it's got cartoons, it must be for younger kids" trap. I was certainly expecting a book for, say, grades 3-5. But this is a solid 6-9 book; the protagonist is in the 7th grade, and you can tell. Sometimes he's a jerk (like, say, a 7th grade boy,) and while there aren't too many puberty episodes, you can tell they are just over the horizon (probably in the follow up volume, Diary of a Wimpy Kid--Roderick Rules, due out in early 2008.) So while I was initially caught off guard when the book didn't meet my preconceived expectations, I fell into it's rhythm and quickly got my literary feet under me.

And now I know why the book has been such a big hit: it's wet-your-pants funny! I took great delight in recommending it to a colleague first thing this morning for her middle school son. She said he likes books that are "sophomoric". Well this is right up his alley then! "Diary" is at times sophomoric. But episodes like the description of the Cheese Touch--spot on! Middle School is so cruel. And, with hindsight, hilarious. How nice to be able to look at it from the other side.

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