Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Shout-out to screen-free time in 10th funny installment.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 23 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Reminders about the good and bad of living back in the day without technology, a few tips on how to survive in the woods (provided by a book that Greg’s grandpa gives him). Plus how not to make lemonade and a cautionary tale against taking apart the sink by yourself.

Positive Messages

Mom gets everyone on a gadget-free weekend kick, introducing many reasons (such as people on cell phones colliding in the park and Grandpa getting too caught up in Internet dating). Ideas on how rumors get started and why. It's also slyly about teamwork. A mild amount of potty humor includes Greg’s baby brother, Manny, having the rule “No pants after dinner” to get him potty-trained faster. You see him as a stick figure running around naked, Grandpa in his undies and robe, and Greg's rear end getting out of a pool.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Greg often makes the wrong decisions -- it's his hallmark and what makes his antics really funny to kids. His worst decision: letting an elementary school kid genius do all his middle school homework; there are no consequences other than Greg being moved up to tougher classes he's sure to fail on his own. He pins blame on others often but is just as often blamed for others' misdeeds. His buddies on the school camping trip are hopeless at working together at first but eventually work as a team. Greg's mom, as always, keeps Greg in line when it counts. She talks Greg into doing his part at a park cleanup by reminding him how special it was when they went to the park when he was little.

Violence & Scariness

Grandpa drives the wrong way down the road with Greg in the car; a kid gets a tooth lodged in his forehead when another kid falls on him; a beetle crawls into a kid's ear; poison ivy. Imagined scariness of a crazy farmer prowling the grounds of a kids' camp, with one illustration of him coming out of a camp toilet and pictures of zombies. A story from Greg's dad's youth about his friend's mother giving him a spanking -- he's pictured over her knee.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Old School is the 10th book in the bestselling Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. This time Wimpy Kid Greg gets into all-new shenanigans including hitching a ride with his grandpa to the hardware store and going the wrong way down the highway. Plus, in a tumble, one kid's tooth gets lodged in another kid's forehead. And kids at a camp give themselves the willies with a tale about a crazed farmer in the woods. They imagine him and zombies coming out of the camp toilet. Potty humor is pretty mild, with some modestly drawn nakedness: Grandpa in undies and a robe, baby brother Manny running around pants-less, Greg showing his rear end getting out of a pool. One image shows a teen smoking outside an ice-cream place. Greg is full of wrong-headed decisions, as usual -- it's a big part of the humor. That’s why parents will appreciate Greg's always-well-meaning mom who, this time, tries to get the whole town to go screen-free for a weekend and clean up the local park.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJayde Q. October 31, 2017

A very funny and interesting book

A boy named Greg Heffley has to spend sometime without technology, but problems start to arise with him and his family. Greg struggles against his mom. Greg wan... Continue reading
Adult Written byCriner October 15, 2019

Kind of scary kind of fun.

If you are scared of the dark probably don’t read this. I would say that this is a pretty fun book but it has scary parts. And this is one of the first Diary of... Continue reading
Kid, 7 years old February 18, 2017

Has really good humor

It has trashy comedy and if you like Big Nate, I would recommend it.
Teen, 13 years old Written byEbraheim July 31, 2016

What's the story?

Greg's school is headed to a week of camping at Hardscrabble Farms, and he’s determined to get out of it. That is, until things at home start to go awry. Greg’s grandpa moves in and takes his room so Greg has to bunk with his baby brother, Manny. Then Greg floods the bathroom while his dad is out and tries to cover it up with a trip to the hardware store with Grandpa -- not realizing until it's too late that Grandpa lost his license and his brother Rodrick didn't fill the car with gas. Oh, and then there's that time he's chased by Girl Scouts in the park and almost turns fugitive. So Greg finally caves and decides his life must get better at camp … and that's where things get much, much worse.

Is it any good?

After a few diary entries that don't quite gel, this 10th installment finds its funny bone about halfway through, right about when Greg is chased by the incredibly industrious Girl Scouts. The story is at its absolute best at camp when one mishap piles on top of another to create truly ridiculous situations. Kids will guffaw at the loss of deodorant privileges and when Greg realizes they need to shower in their own sweat. There's a bit of humor for parents, too -- no joke -- such as how Greg's dad reacts to having his father live with them and how Greg's mom keeps tabs on her son.

And there's a moment of reflection for everyone about their screen time. Guess who breaks the rules in the end? Hint: It's not the kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen-free time. Have you ever tried to ditch the gadgets for a few days or a week? How did it go? How does this work out for Greg's mom?

  • What do you think of this Wimpy Kid installment? What makes the books funny? If Greg weren't a stick figure, would you want someone like that to be your friend? Why, or why not?

  • How does the Silas Scratch rumor get started? Why? Why does Greg keep it going when he knows the truth?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and humor

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