A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the sixth installment in the extremely popular Wimpy Kid series is the mildest yet. There's almost no violence except for a few barely bullied kids. And a couple of cartoons show Greg in the bathroom with his underwear on. Parents will probably be more concerned with Greg's behavior. As usual, he's not owning up to his mistakes, but he usually pays the price in excessive worry and/or (fair) punishment from his parents or the school. Parents may like the jabs at sites like Webkinz that get kids to hit their parents up for money -- a worthy topic of discussion -- and the safety restrictions at school that are so excessive that all of the playground equipment is removed.
What's the story?
It's November, and Greg is already worried about making Santa's naughty list. To get info directly back to St. Nick, Greg's mom enlists the help of an elf doll that she calls Santa's Scout. That doesn't stop the mischievous misadventures, though, as Greg ices over someone's driveway (thinking a hose would be faster than shoveling) to make money to feed and clothe his online pet, pretends to use his mom's exercise game (but just sits and presses the buttons instead), and accidentally defaces school property with posters that stain the walls (and there's no way he's owning up to that). But when a blizzard strands Dad comfortably at a hotel and the rest of the family is stuck with limited food and no electricity, that's when the Christmas holidays really get interesting.
Is it any good?
Fans of the Wimpy Kid series could definitely do worse than having CABIN FEVER handy during cold winter weather. Greg's still up to no good in his own cluelessly funny way. Seeing how his family handles being stranded in a snowstorm is the highlight of the book. On the other hand, flashbacks about Greg's strange doll and the president's physical fitness test aren't as engaging and are too big a departure from the main story.
As always, there are reminders that being a kid is so different today. Parents reading along will laugh about the sad state of Greg's playground (all the toys are removed for "safety reasons"), the kids sneaking energy drinks when the school soda machine is removed, and that Greg gets rewarded with cybercash for watching his online pet watch commercials. While the later volumes in this series lack a little punch compared with the early ones, there's still plenty to laugh at and discuss with young readers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online games that encourage kids to spend money. Do you play any of them? Are they as addictive as the game Greg was playing?
Talk about the Wimpy Kid movies vs. the books. Which do you like better? Is the movie version of Greg the way you imagined him in the books? What about the other characters?
Discuss creativity and writing. Does this series encourage you to start your own journal or newspaper?
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