Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Extra helping of potty humor in 8th installment.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 18 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

No talk in this installment about how Greg's keeping this diary and how it helps him. But he does join the yearbook committee and learn how to manipulate pictures on his computer -- in an unflattering way, of course -- but it may encourage kids to get creative with fun photo software.

Positive Messages

It's a mixed bag of messages. Hard Luck is heavy on the potty humor, for one. When Greg gets treated to ice cream for good grades and his brother with bad grades gets ice cream, too, Greg says, "It taught me that even if you try your best, someone is just gonna mooch off your hard work." But then, after relying on a Magic Eight Ball to tell him what to do, he realizes that "the BIG decisions are up to me," and one of those is showing compassion toward a friend.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Oh, Greg. He's always doing something a little bit rotten, like using a Magic Eight Ball for a test or altering school yearbook photos of kids he doesn't like. That's where the humor lies. Luckily, he's got a mom who keeps him in line, and he's not willing to do anything too reprehensible; he thinks about buying an old science fair project but changes his mind. He's a boy growing into his conscience, and it's clearly taking some real time and effort.

Violence & Scariness

Greg draws pictures of getting knocked to the ground by one bully and being chased by scary neighborhood kids and a dog. One of Greg's wild toddler cousins goes to the emergency room for stitches, and another finds a razor and shaves with it. Mentions of a great-grandmother's death in the past.


"Jerk," "bunch of baloney."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hard Luck is the eighth regular installment in the Wimpy Kid graphic novel series. Reluctant readers are huge fans of this bestselling series, which parents either tolerate because they're thrilled their kid's reading or dislike because the main character, Greg, is always doing something a little bit rotten. Here Greg uses a Magic Eight Ball for a test, alters school yearbook photos in unflattering ways, and lets his grades slip because he's lost all his books and doesn't tell anyone. He's clearly a boy growing into his conscience -- slowly -- but he does the right thing when it really counts, like deciding not to buy another kid's science fair project and showing compassion to a friend at the right time. Violence is pretty low with a few pushy bullies. It's all the potty humor that stands out in this one. Pants are pulled down a few times showing stick cartoon legs in small underwear; Greg's sitting on the toilet a few times, as well. Then there's poor Dad, who has a dog pass gas in his face. Ewww.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMr. Supersonic December 7, 2018

Underdog back in Book filled with potty humor.

It’s safe to say for certain, this has A bucket filled with potty humor. On the nudity side, On page 118, aunt Gretchen‘s two kids Peek in the shower Wh... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 13, 2021

Awesome book!

I love this series! There's nothing wrong with it except for one thing. I fell as though there are not enough female characters in these books. But the hum... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byilhc January 6, 2021

Continuing from the last book, Abigail and Rowley are now a couple, leaving Greg out. When things get worse for him, Greg uses a magic 8-ball to make his decisions for him and turn his life around.

Eight books in and still good. Jeff Kinney is one of the most consistently funny writers/cartoonists working right now. Kinney has placed Greg Heffley in the sa... Continue reading

What's the story?

Poor Greg. His one good friend, Rowley, has done the unthinkable. He's actually gotten a girlfriend. Now who will walk to school with him and carry his books while watching out for dog messes on the sidewalk? Greg will just have to find himself another sidekick. The only boy desperate enough to take him up on the offer is his bizarre neighbor Fregley, who drops all Greg's books on their first trip to school while running away from the scary Mingo brothers. And then it's Easter, and mom's quarreling sisters and daredevil cousins come to visit. When Greg finds a Magic Eight Ball, he thinks things are finally looking up. It helps him with all kinds of decisions, like which club to join to stay away from the Mingo brothers after school. But he's let his grades slip -- he has no books to study with -- and his science fair project is due next week. What's a Wimpy Kid to do?

Is it any good?

Hard Luck doesn't hold together as well as the other installments. Here's the true test of whether HARD LUCK is up your alley: Does the picture of Greg's dad getting tooted on by Grandma's dog send you into hysterical laughter, or do your eyes immediately roll skyward? If this prompts you to stop reading this review, the book is not for you. Is Jeff Kinney running out of gas/ideas? The quarreling-relatives storyline is a real low point; kids don't care about that stuff.

But there are always little redeeming moments, like all the things Greg finds in his mom's closet. Moms will like this mom with her parenting books and backup stuffed animals and the way she lays down the law to get Greg to bring up his grades but types his paper for him after he turns things around. Maybe that will sink in a little with kids once they're done laughing at the tooting dog.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the mega popularity of the Wimpy Kid series. What do kids love about it?

  • What do kids think of Greg? What do parents? Does he do anything in Hard Luck that you couldn't believe? Why do characters like Greg always seem as if they have one bad day after another?

  • Do you keep a journal? If so, how often do you write or draw in it? How can a journal be helpful?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love humor

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