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 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Author: Jeff Kinney
- Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: April 9, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 24, 2020
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