What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this is the mildest Wimpy Kid so far. Greg still has a little trouble with honesty and good intentions, and some of his actions are those of a younger child. He has a crush on a high school senior who is a lifeguard, and he follows her around and tries to help with her job, but there is no sign she notices him. Greg doesn't enjoy walking through the locker room at the pool because he doesn't like to see the men in the shower, but there are no descriptions of what he doesn't like. There is one comic of Greg's older brother dropping a dirty sock into Greg's mouth while he sleeps. The humor is slightly wicked, but there are sweet parts. The parents monitor Greg's TV viewing, his activities, his friends, and his reading.
What's the story?
Greg's family has cut back on vacations and day trips to save money, so his summer fun is limited. Summer vacation finds the main character, Greg, happy to be inside playing video games. His mother has other ideas, and starts a book club. Greg also gets to go to the country club with his best friend Rowley -- until they run up a bill of $83 for smoothies that Greg thought were free. Greg gets a job to pay the money back, and his scheme to mow lawns goes about as well as his other plans often do. So his birthday money will have to pay the bill instead of buy him the dog he wants, or so he thinks.
Is it any good?
Greg has quite the teen attitude and self-centeredness going on for a middle schooler. He mouths off to his mom, but this is his diary, after all, so he gets to tell the story his way. Greg may remind parents of Calvin in the old comic Calvin and Hobbes. Greg's actions are often those of a younger boy, and he is still quite innocent and naive. Younger readers will relate easily to his first crush on an older girl, and his attempts to woo her simply by following her around and trying to "help her" -- and still being unnoticed by her.
It's easy for even the stuffiest of adults to see why kids like the humor in this incredibly popular series. The drawings are innocuous, and although Greg recounts being a child model and only having one photo ever used (on a book called Your Child and Constipation), that's the extent of the potty humor -- overall far above the level of something like Captain Underpants. Once again, kids will see why it's better not to act the way Greg does even while they are laughing with him.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about being bored, and the benefits of playing outside as opposed to staying inside. Are video games always bad, even if parents have approved them?
How could Greg's mother have made the book club more attractive?
Why does Greg treat his best friend Rowley so badly?