Top 100 Children’s Novels #76: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Books geared to those reluctant reader boys – and boy did they work – had so many boys reading that were never readers before this series. – Cheryl Phillips
These books are funny, fast reads that kids love! They have started the “diary” book craze! – Gina Detate
At last he arrives! The book that indeed is responsible for the hoards of notebook novels we see published left and right today. Wimpy Kid was one of those phenomenons that arrived at precisely the right moment. Its rise coincided with the publication of books like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. These were all books that did not slot easily into single categories sometimes because they were for readers of all ages (as with Tan) or because they dared to mix and meld together text and image. In Wimpy Kid‘s case, this format was a natural offshoot of its webcomic status. Still, it’s really more novel than graphic, so it fits on this list just fine.
The description from my original review of the book reads, “First things first. Boys do not have diaries. Girls have diaries. Let’s get that straight cause things could get messy if we don’t. Basically, what we have here are the gathered thoughts and memories of Greg Haffley. Greg’s got a pretty average life, all things considered. His older brother is a jerk, his younger brother annoying, his best friend a doofus, and his parents perfect dweebs. To top it all off, Greg’s been thrown into his first year of middle school and things are really weird. Suddenly friendships are shifting and Greg’s not sure who he wants to be. Add in some haunted houses, wrestling, downhill games involving bodily injury, forbidden cheese, and basic family fears and you’ve got yourself one heckuva debut.”
I always cite Wimpy Kid as the whole reason paper books have no reason to fear the electronic uprising. Consider its status. Any kid can go to Funbrain.com and read Wimpy Kid online for free. That’s their choice. But you know what they really want? To get their hands on the paper edition. Maybe it’s the diary format but kids want to hold that puppy in their hands and turn the pages themselves without any smooth electronic gobblety-gook in the way.
Can you believe that since its publication its gotten its own Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon:
And . . . okay, just a balloon and a movie. Still, not too shabby for a former webcomic, no?
- Be sure to read this post by designer Chad Beckerman on the many different Wimpy Kid covers out there from around the world.
Recently Jeff Kinney got another Wimpy Kid related honor, albeit one that had eluded him for years. For the past five years the Children’s Book Choice Awards would tally the child votes from around the country and deem one author the most popular of them all. It seems crazy, but it took YEARS for Kinney to finally get a shiny award all for himself. Here you can see author Jack Gantos handing it off to Jeff:
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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