Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Epic neighborhood snowball fight perks up 13th installment.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Some facts about climate change, how the dinosaurs went extinct, medieval castle warfare.

Positive Messages

Greg's mom is full of wisdom as always: Learning to deal with "conflict" is part of growing up, and kids who spend too much time with video games forget how to interact. In this installment, kids are outside most of the time engaged in exciting, creative play that involves lots of problem-solving, strategy, and cooperation with other kids. Also, Greg reminds us to cover our mouths when we cough and sneeze. Less potty humor in this installment: Greg's friend goes to the bathroom behind a rock and almost gets caught.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Greg often makes wrong decisions -- it's his hallmark and what makes his antics really funny to kids. In this installment, he tries to get out of chores, breaks into his vacationing grandma's house without permission, leaves his baby brother unsupervised. His mom often keeps him on the right path, making him go outside, calling for screen-free weekends, telling Greg he needs to deal with his own conflicts. This all brings out the best in Greg. He proves to be a strategic and creative thinker when forced. A lot of his wild plans fail (pizza boxes on his feet when he has no boots), but he's always full of ideas.

Violence & Scariness

One very long snowball fight. One kid gets two teeth knocked out by an ice ball (banned by the kids after that), many kids get pushed out of the way by a snowplow. Kids lost in woods almost hit by father's car. Dogs attack and go for leftover pizza, not kids. Fight in cafeteria. Pictures of kids pushed over or being hit on the head by bullies. Kid tells tall tales about dead pets in the school cafeteria freezer and a man whose head exploded when he sneezed. Last illustration shows an atom bomb going off out the window while cyborg Greg plays cards with a robot. Talk of castle warfare with boiling oil poured on invaders.


Greg calls his friend an idiot.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown is the 13th book in the best-selling Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Like Book 6, Cabin Fever, there's a big snow storm, but in The Meltdown, Greg's mom forces him outside to play in it. The finale is an epic neighborhood snowball fight with snow forts and flags where kids have to strategize, problem-solve, and cooperate -- a great reminder of how important interactive play is for kids to build these vital skills. One kid loses two teeth in the melee when an ice ball is thrown -- kids get together to ban ice balls after that. The only other hazard is a snowplow that almost runs down the kids. In other parts of the book, kids get lost and almost get hit by a car, and dogs attack and go for leftover pizza, not kids. The last illustration shows an atom bomb going off out the window while cyborg Greg plays cards with a robot. Kids will learn a bit about climate change and the extinction of the dinosaurs, as well as medieval castle warfare. There's not as much potty humor in this book to watch out for, but Greg often makes bad decisions, usually out of forgetfulness or laziness. He also shows himself to be a strategic thinker with lots of big ideas -- that often fail miserably.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLebron12James3 March 19, 2020
Adult Written byReallifewimpykid913 January 22, 2019

Great Depth

Introduces so many new characters! Giving the series a bigger cast, and it even gives backstory on each of them. To top it all off, it ends with an EPIC snowbal... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bySlendernonono1 May 7, 2021

The WORST diary of a wimpy kid book

Out of all the diary of a wimpy kid books this was the Worst one EVER
With only a big fight I have to admit it has a pretty bad story line.
Kid, 12 years old November 18, 2018

Really AWESOME!!!!!!

A super hilarious book about neighborhood snow wars, the injustice of middle school, neighborhood rivalries and so much more. there's no way that you'... Continue reading

What's the story?

In DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE MELTDOWN, it's winter and Greg is impatiently waiting for the cold weather. His school heater is on too high, making his brain foggy. Perhaps that's why he forgot to do his country report -- he'll just have to fake it. When the weather finally turns, the school heater breaks and it's freezing in school. It's also so snowy on his walks to and from school that one day he straps pizza boxes to his feet. He's making excellent time until the boxes get soggy and the neighbor dogs smell the leftover pizza. As the snow continues to fall, neighborhood tensions rise. The safety patrol girls won't allow snowball fights after school. The kids that live up the hill won't let the kids that live down the hill sled on THEIR hill. Throw in a snow day, snow forts, and an enterprising kid selling specialty snowballs, and Greg and his friends better be ready to rumble.

Is it any good?

In this 13th Wimpy Kid, Greg's up to his usual bad ideas until he lands on a stellar one: an epic neighborhood snowball fight, the kind kids dream of as soon as the first flurries fly. Well, he doesn't come up with the whole idea, but his snow fort gets things rolling. At the height of the battle, there are multiple forts, team flags, shaky alliances, and a guy selling specialized snowballs. There's even a spy. And -- many parents will love this -- it all comes together because Greg's mom forces him outside, telling him that video games don't teach kids how to interact. In just one afternoon of snow-covered mayhem, kids have to plan, negotiate, strategize, and cooperate. This part of The Meltdown is such a great reminder of how amazing getting outside and looking for the good kind of trouble can be.

The rest of The Meltdown is less cohesive and engaging. There's a school report Greg forgot about, a hot school, and then a freezing-cold school, smelly socks, kids spreading germs, breaking into Grandma's house, and so on. Mixed in, you'll find an introduction to the neighbor kids who'll stage the fight later, but it's not done smoothly. Perhaps this hodgepodge fits in with the diary premise, but luckily it doesn't last the whole book. For the finale, author-illustrator Jeff Kinney includes a full-page spread of the snowball melee. That's how you know he's having a ball as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the snowball fight in The Meltdown. Have you ever had a snowball fight like that? What strategies did the neighborhood kids use to win? How did they come up with rules to keep things safe?

  • Do you think it's cruel for Greg's mom to have screen-free weekends? Do you think he would have been outside if his mom didn't force him out?

  • Which is your favorite Wimpy Kid book so far? Do you read other graphic novel series? Which ones?

Book details

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