12 February 2008
The purpose of reading this book was tri-fold (if that's the correct use of the word.) (1)Author Jeff Kinney will be appearing at the Barnes and Noble in Walpole, and I want to go meet him (2)this is the chosen book, along with it's predecessor, for the February meeting of the 5th and 6th grade book discussion group at work (3)I enjoyed the first one so much. Rodrick Rules picks up a few months after the end of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He is back at school and trying to put behind him an unpleasant episode with his brother, which you just know is going to surface at some point. Greg's sibling relations dominate this story: either he's trying to evade to run-ins with big brother Rodrick or avoid doing anything naughty in front of snitch-master little brother, Manny. For the most part, Greg fails on both parts. "Better-than-nothing" best friend Rowley is still around. He reminds me of Ralph from the Simpsons; an absolute idiot who has to work hard to stay out of his own way.
There was something a bit more mean-spirited about Rodrick Rules than "Diary," and I suppose we can blame Rodrick for that. He really is horrid! He's got his father doing his homework, he swindles his mother out of money for bogus drum lessons to Greg and Rowley, and he never seems to get the comeuppance that afflicts Greg whenever he does anything cruel or wrong (unless you count the science fair.) And I found the parents to be particularly obtuse in this volume. Where as the first diary reminded me of the slings and arrows of being in Middle School, this diary has filled me with dread at the thought of raising a middle schooler. Heaven forbid I should get it as wrong as Mr. and Mrs. Heffley do! Still, Mom manages to steal the show towards the end, which almost makes up for the Mystick and Magic stupidity, where her good intentions manage to undermine just about the only thing in the book that Greg does that keeps him out of trouble. All I'll say is that it involves a school talent show, public access cable, and some seriously bad dancing.
Having said all that, fans of the first book will eat this one right up (as evidence by the number of kids who have signe up for the book discussion group this time around.) I expect to run into a sizeable crowd of fans at B&N on Monday. And I'm even looking forward to the next installment, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (according to the publisher's website, at least five volumes are planned.) Does Greg finally get one over on Rodrick? Does he shove the annoying Manny down the toilet? Does Mom finally buy a clue?! We'll see.