A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Double Down is the 11th book in the bestselling Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. With most of the main action leading up to and following Halloween, this installment digs into some common kid fears: spiders crawling into your mouth while you're sleeping, a monster grabbing your ankles. And the main character, Greg, has nightmares after reading scary books in a Goosebumps-like series. He walks the plank toward sharks and is chased by a pitchfork-bearing mob. When Greg decides to make his own horror movie, he uses gummy-worm candy to pretend-kill two people. As usual in this series, Greg often makes the wrong decisions. Here he's caught lying -- with plenty of consequences -- and talks about how the rest of his family lies. Greg's mom remains the rock of the family, here insisting that Greg put down the video games and explore his many talents.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOUBLE DOWN, Greg can't wait for Halloween. There's all that candy and a Halloween party at a classmate's house -- a party he's determined to get invited to. When Greg finds out the only kids invited are in the middle school band, he talks his parents into buying him a French horn. When he finds out the party is also only for woodwind players, he talks his friend Rowley -- a clarinet player -- into making a two-headed costume. In the meantime, Greg lets the spooky season get to him. Reading a bunch of scary books gives him nightmares, and he takes his brother Rodrick's tall tales way too seriously. Will a monster really reach for Greg's ankles on the basement stairs? Better send his little brother, Manny, down first just to be safe.
Is it any good?
With plenty of jokes about scary books, horror movies, and kid fears, this 11th installment of the best-selling series will find its best audience in your favorite easily scared kiddos. They're the ones who avoid the Goosebumps books at all costs, so they'll really appreciate the way author Jeff Kinney lampoons that series in Double Down. And they'll definitely laugh as Greg's mom takes over the once-cool annual Halloween party and turns the games into family-friendly fun. The moments with Rodrick may be a little tougher to handle -- Greg is definitely taken in by every tall tale his brother tells -- but there's a good lesson there: Big siblings know how to get to you. Don't be fooled so easily!
That's not the only lesson here. Parents who may cringe at all of Greg's lying will be happy there are plenty of consequences. And Greg's mom continues to want the best for her kids, insisting that Greg get out there and explore what he's good at. Greg, on the surface, seems to fail at everything, but his wild imagination still comes through. What other kid looks at a pile of gummy worms and thinks "Let's make a horror movie"? When Kinney sticks to his Halloween theme, the story feels fresh and holds together well. When he veers to strange flashbacks about piano lessons and speech class, it feels more like filler. But it's guaranteed this effort is enough to scare up more fans for Book 12.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about scares in Double Down. Greg started having nightmares after reading all those I.M. Spooky books. Do you get scared more easily after reading or watching scary things? Do you get nightmares like Greg?
At the beginning of the book, Greg imagines that he's being secretly followed by a TV crew. When does he like this supposed attention? When does he want his privacy? Would you like your life filmed all the time?
How does this Wimpy Kid book compare with others you've read? Which one is your favorite? Why?
- Author: Jeff Kinney
- Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Holidays, Horses and Farm Animals, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: November 1, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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