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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story may make light of troublemaking because it's part of the humor, but there are consequences and lessons kids can easily learn about what the main character should have done. Also, the book may entice kids to start their own journals.
Positive Role Models
A big part of the book's humor is Greg's cluelessness about what would have kept him out of trouble and why his parents, teachers, and friends are upset with him. Readers get this message in the humor. Greg mistreats his underdog friend Rowley more than a few times, but this comes back to haunt him. Greg's parents try hard to lead him in the right direction; his mom is especially formidable in a few situations. Rowley's dad looks up video games on a parent website to see if they have too much violence.
Violence & Scariness
Greg draws pictures of kids getting pushed around by bullies at school. Teens chase him in a truck and make Rowley eat something disgusting. Greg breaks Rowley's hand in a dangerous stunt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Boys notice girls at school. Greg's older brother gets in trouble for letting their baby brother bring a magazine picture of a girl in a bikini to show-and-tell. His mom makes him apologize to all women on paper.
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Kids get in trouble in Independent Study for writing down all the swear words they know -- but you don't see any of the words, and it's for a pretty innocent reason. "Jerk," "morons," and "fart" are the strongest words used in the cartoons. Greg tries to listen to his brother's Parent Advisory-labeled music and gets caught.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In an anti-smoking poster contest at school, Greg loses to a kid who he says smokes at least a pack of cigarettes a day.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the first of a blockbuster multi-book series starring middle schooler Greg Heffley, who usually doesn't do the right thing the first time around. His cluelessness about what would keep him out of trouble and why parents, teachers, and friends are upset with him is part of the book's humor, which leads the reader to any lesson Greg should be learning. Parents will appreciate that Rowley's dad researches video games on a parent website to see if they have too much violence. Also, it is clear that Greg's mom is working hard to raise respectful sons.
Is It Any Good?
Begun in 2004 by a game developer as comics on the site www.funbrain.com, this "novel in cartoons" translates well to book form. Diary of a Wimpy Kid reads like little episodes in clueless middle schooler Greg Heffley's life, with a great sense of humor throughout. Many kids have been there before, so they'll laugh heartily at Greg's mishaps.
Greg's grand schemes -- to become popular (running for treasurer, writing the comic for the school newspaper), get the most candy on Halloween, or build a robot that won't repeat swear words -- are all destined for failure. The reader knows where the flaws are in Greg's half-baked plans, as well as the lesson he doesn't quite get in the end. Writing down your thoughts on actual paper may be old-school in the age of social media, sure, but it still has many benefits -- including privacy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.