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Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal Book Poster Image
Greg is meaner to gullible BFF Rowley in Wimpy Kid spin-off.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Rowley employs some good study methods like practice tests, songs to remember concepts, and knowing when to bail on your friend who doesn't want to study so you can get work done.

Positive Messages

Lessons abound here about common friendship problems, like how to recognize when you're being taken advantage of or lied to and the consequences of giving in to peer pressure (whether it's sneaking out or cheating on a test) and not standing up for yourself. There are few examples of positive interactions, so kids need to be savvy enough readers to glean these lessons. There's a bit of potty humor here, but not more than in the Wimpy Kid books.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This is supposed to be Rowley's book, but he lets Greg (the original Wimpy Kid) take over most of the time. We get only glimpses of Rowley expressing himself, through his joy in doing well in school and his superhero character who wants to spread kindness. He slowly realizes that Greg lies to him and doesn't always treat him well, but he rarely sticks up for himself.  

Violence & Scariness

A fall into a pit with a hornet's nest with many stings, a hit on the head with a racket, a sprained ankle. Tales of ghosts, a grave in a (not real) burial ground, and a half-man half-goat.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal is a spin-off of the blockbuster Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Greg is the original Wimpy Kid and Rowley is his gullible best friend who puts up with a lot from Greg. Rowley is lied to and taken advantage of. Greg talks him into doing all his chores for special certificates and other prizes, and he even cheats off Rowley's math test. Many examples of middle school friend conflicts arise in Rowley Jefferson's Journal, so this may be a good one to read with kids having social conflicts. Together you can talk through what being a good friend is about. There's little violence: a fall into a pit with a hornet's nest and many stings, a hit on a head with a racket, and a sprained ankle. Kids get wound up over scary stuff in their imaginations: ghosts, graves in a burial ground, and a half-man half-goat out roaming the neighborhood. Rowley and Greg see mean teens in the woods who look like they're holding beer cans.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written byMifu April 12, 2019

Funny and has good messages

This book is mostly great.Rowley describes Gregory as his best friend but Gregory is always playing mean pranks on him.There is also some violence.
Kid, 10 years old April 11, 2019

What's the story?

In DIARY OF AN AWESOME FRIENDLY KID: ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S JOURNAL, Rowley sees how much his best friend, Greg, enjoys his Wimpy Kid diary, so he decides to write his own story. His first creative mistake is to show it to Greg, who asserts that Rowley should write a biography about him instead. So Rowley reformats his journal into tales of the two of them, when they first met, their first sleepover (Rowley gets scared and goes home early), a disastrous birthday party where the best part is an angry swarm of hornets, the discovery of an ancient burial ground (or not), and so much more. Rowley figures out a few things about his friend along the way: that he may not always be telling the truth (duh), and he's the worst study partner in the world.  

Is it any good?

Wimpy Kid fans who have a soft spot for gullible, sweet, dorky Rowley may find some laughs in this spin-off, but they may also get angry at Greg for being such a bad friend. They could feel misled by the title that features Rowley, too. Greg takes over the story early on and dominates it throughout. The only difference with Rowley Jefferson's Journal and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is that readers focus almost entirely on the Greg-Rowley friendship here, if you could call it that. Rowley puts up with a whole lot, doing Greg's chores, falling for his lies because he trusts his friend when he shouldn't, and, at one point, even not being allowed to pee during a sleepover at Greg's house. In one segment where Rowley is trying hard to study for his math test, Greg's distraction tactics are relentless. At some point it's so ridiculous it's funny again, but until it gets there readers may be rooting for Rowley to ditch his BFF for someone who doesn't treat him this way. How about befriending another math wiz who likes to study, too?

If Jeff Kinney wants to write about Rowley, he should dig deeper into who he is and show some more appreciation for him in the storytelling. Otherwise, he's better off sticking with Greg as his main character.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about friendship in Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal. If you were Rowley, would you put up with a friend like Greg? What does Rowley get out of his friendship with Greg? What do his parents think about it?

  • How much of this story is really Rowley's? Is anything just about him or is it still mostly about Greg?

  • Would you read more books from Rowley's perspective? Or do you prefer Greg's?

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