A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Jeff Kinney
- Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: October 30, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 8, 2020
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