Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Greg faces puberty's horrors in funny 5th installment.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 118 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

For kids nearing puberty, this could be a good starting point for talking about what they're going through in a humorous way. Also, at one point Greg talks about the fact that his brother Rodrick didn't get a job because he posted less-than-professional pictures of himself online. Could provide a good entry point into talking about online privacy.

Positive Messages

Shows how facing growing up and puberty aren't easy for anyone -- wimpy or not. There's added responsibility, even more confusing dynamics with friends, pep talks from well-meaning relatives, and no more brownie points for simply being an adorable kid. All these changes are handled in Greg's usual clueless and often irresponsible way, but it still gives kids plenty to think about -- and laugh about -- around their own experiences. There's more potty humor in this book, especially around boys and peeing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Greg is pretty irresponsible most of the time -- he lets his neighbor's plants die when he forgets to water them and even leaves his cousin on the side of the road with a flat tire when he walks home and forgets to tell anyone. But he's not mean-spirited, and readers learn the lessons he should be learning but never does. Greg's parents are still positive influences on him; his mom goes back to school, so his dad and the kids take on extra chores to help her reach her goal.


It's puberty time for Greg. There's talk of health class permission slips and kids being confused in a class about zygotes, but all details are glossed over except a few mentions (and pictures) of body hair growth and body odor. There's one pretty tame cartoon of a boy who stands at the urinal with his pants all the way down and another of a bare butt getting a spanking. And there's one close-up picture of someone's elbow that teachers misconstrue as a "posterior." Greg hopes to play spin the bottle with girls at a party that he never gets to go to.


Kids look up "posterior" when the teachers call it that and laugh at all the words in the dictionary for "butt."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One cartoon of Greg's grandpa sneaking a smoke in the bathroom; Greg says, "Believe me, I don't need some teacher to tell ME it's not cool to smoke. My grandfather convinced me of that last year on Thanksgiving." Wine glasses are shown at a wedding.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fifth book in the incredibly popular Wimpy Kid series features the same clueless, often irresponsible Wimpy Kid, but now he's about to go through puberty. Expect a few more references to the Big Change, but no real details beyond talk of b.o. and body hair -- the boys leave health class confused by terms like "zygote." There are a few cartoon shots of bare butts, but they're very cartoony.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCamila R. March 3, 2018

A Little More Mature Book?

Look, I am wrriting a rating for this book, not because I am an evil adult trying to ruin little kid's fun but.... What even IS this book compared to the o... Continue reading
Parent of a 17-year-old Written byMr. Awesome April 13, 2011
I am so Awesome!!!
Kid, 12 years old June 26, 2011

Funny fifth book is a bit more mature than the rest.

I gotta say it was funny! It was a bit more mature than the rest of the book in the series. The whole book is basically a humorous way to inform kids about some... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old May 29, 2011

really good and dont say that there is any sexual content

i am reading it and i am loving it and i laughed at some parts

What's the story?

Wimpy Kid Greg and Rowley become ex-best friends at a very inconvenient time -- right when Greg is forced to face puberty alone. There's talk of puberty everywhere -- in health class, in Greg's mom's column (how embarrassing!), and even with great-grandma, who gives a secret lecture to everyone in the family when they reach that special age. Greg also notices that way more is expected of him now. His mom has gone back to school, so he's got more chores, and dad's helping with homework, which is no help at all. But there are some perks to getting older, like an all-night, co-ed lock-in at school -- that is, until the teachers take away everyone's electronic gadgets. Not that!

Is it any good?

The series isn't as fresh and irreverent as it used to be, but the awkwardness of middle school always offers some laughs -- especially when you throw in hitting puberty. Most of the tales strewn together here are ones kids can relate to or are gearing up to face. Occasionally Kinney misses the mark, though, like when he talks about Greg's uncle's fifth wedding. But overall, kids will be laughing as usual.  Seeing Greg decked out in head gear and Rowley showing off his giant zit is pretty funny stuff.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the series. Why do you think kids like it? Do kids find it's easy to laugh at Greg's antics? Do you think he'll ever become more responsible? Would the stories be as funny?

  • Kids who have seen the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie may want to compare and contrast it with the books. Did the movie do a good job of capturing Greg's character -- and his antics? Are movies usually as good as the original book?

Book details

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