A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
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