A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers of this installment in Jeff Kinney's mega-popular Wimpy Kid series will get a humorous but not all that unrealistic idea of middle school life, going on a first date, and being at a middle school dance.
The reassuring message of The Third Wheel can be found in all of the Wimpy Kid books: Life as a tween can be awkward, embarrassing, and disappointing, but everyone gets through these years and survives.
Positive Role Models
Seeing adults through Greg's lens, we get a kid's-eye view of parenting that can make grown-ups seem clueless and random. But we can also see that Greg has caring parents who strive to improve their kids' minds and social skills, and who set reasonable limits. Greg isn't an example of great decision-making, but kids will learn from his mistakes.
Violence & Scariness
Greg gets locked in the laundry room by a bratty little boy he's babysitting. While he's trying to find a way out, Greg overhears the boy riding his bike in the house, crashing into things, and crying whenever he bumps into something that hurts.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Greg describes (and Jeff Kinney's pictures illustrate) his parents kissing, which he says makes him gag. Greg also writes a note to a girl on her desk, and another kid who shares the desk draws a picture of Greg kissing the girl to make fun of him. Greg has his first slow dance. Also, there's a "Mad Pantser" on the loose, sneaking up behind and pulling down guys' pants to embarrass them.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Greg's lazy, aimless Uncle Gary has nightmares about "monkeys in the walls." Precocious kids and teens may make a connection that Gary has used drugs in the past.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel is the seventh installment in Jeff Kinney's hugely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Like the other Wimpy Kid books, this humorously told and heavily illustrated story recounts the experiences and observations of hapless middle schooler Greg Heffley. This book includes Greg's "memories" of being in the womb, and the awkwardness of family restaurant dining, sharing space with an uninvited relative, and most of all, struggling to get a date for the school dance. There's a very small amount of cartoon violence, as well as a few cartoon kisses, a "Mad Pantser" (who pulls down guys' pants), and loads of other funny but painfully embarrassing moments. Parts of this book series have been made into movies, too.
Is It Any Good?
Jeff Kinney's capacity to embarrass his character, Greg Heffley, and amuse his readers seems to know no bounds. Like the other volumes in the Wimpy Kid series, this book is full of mostly tame, middle-school-type humiliation and laughs. Kinney's memorable illustrations are as dynamic as they are funny, and as always, they tell as much of the story as the narrative does. Wimpy Kid books have typically been popular with kids even as young as 7 or 8; however, as this particular installment focuses primarily on middle school life and the big dance (as opposed to family life), some of the youngest Wimpy Kid readers might not be as excited about this book as they were about some of the others.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.