Sunday, July 13, 2008

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

1. Bibliography: Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. New York: Amulet, 2007.

2. Genre and Awards:
Comic/Graphic Novel, Middle School, Relationship/Friendship

3. Synopsis:
Greg Heffley’s mom had the brilliant idea of giving him a journal. Greg starts the journal by clarifying that it is a JOURNAL and not a diary and says, “Just don’t expect me to be all ‘Dear Diary’ this and ‘Dear Diary’ that” (Kinney 2). Greg uses his journal to draw cartoons in order to help him communicate the humor, frustration, terror and the behemoth emotions that kids have to deal with when they are wimpy and starting middle school. In a mix of cartoons and prose, Greg becomes an unlikely champion for kids who deal with being “somewhere around 52nd or 53rd most popular” (Kinney 7).

4. Characters:
Greg Heffley is a middle school student who struggles with fitting in and negotiating the new world of middle school. His best friend, Rowley, is his endearing side kick who keeps moving up the social ladder, leaving Greg feeling confused and alone. Rodrick, Greg’s older brother is in a rock band and terrorizes Greg.

5. Plot:
The plot of this book is deceptively simple. Greg simply exists in middle school, trying to figure out how to become immortal. His journey into self-discovery is poignant, but simple. The novel is told through a year long journal of events like Halloween and class plays. The illustrations aid in Greg’s limited narration.

6. Needs of adolescents:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid addresses the fear young people have in meeting new challenges and the world of changing peers and demands. This book is great for kids who are struggling with the emerging social strata of cliques and clubs, athletics and trying to figure out what “cool” is.

7. Possible Classroom Uses:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid would be ideal an individual choice—particularly for students who are reluctant readers. It might work well for small group discussions as well.

8. Appropriate Age Range

Diary of a Wimpy Kid would be a great book for middle school or junior high students.

9. Personal Reactions
I struggle with graphic novels. I was hesitant to read this book, but I am glad that I did. Although I connect better with prose, I could see how young people who are intimidated by “big” books would laugh and connect with Greg’s journey. I think this book is a great bridge to books that seem impossible for reluctant readers. Although it was not one of my favorite books, it helped me recognize that kids who may not think they like reading would be comforted by the illustrations and graphic representations for textual significance.

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