A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Sherlock Holmes is a character, as are mythical figures like Medusa, mermaids, elves, trolls, pixies, etc. Kids can think about what other books they've read that have these characters -- or possibly learn who Holmes is for the first time.
Have fun and use your imagination, but make sure you're being helpful in ways people want. Though it's important to listen to others, have integrity, and follow your heart too -- take pride when you do. Honesty, compassion, and friendliness might not always seem cool, but they ultimately pay off. But pranking, bullying, and fighting can lead to hurt feelings.
Positive Role Models
Rowley wants his story to promote positive messages, and his main character, Roland, to be a conflict-solver. Although he's initially influenced by Greg, Rowley ultimately shows integrity by following his own vision and writing what he wants. Rowley compassionately ends his story by having villains magically turn good. Greg tries to be honest with Rowley but ends up pushing him around in order to "cash in." He gives a lot of bad advice and isn't a good friend to Rowley.
Disabled elders Bampy the Brave and the "One-Eyed" Wizard are role models, but the book makes jokes about Bampy's memory loss due to head injury and the Wizard's eye loss. Some mythical dwarf characters are mean, which kids may connect to real people with dwarfism. Women have minor roles but some positive attributes: The little mermaid is helpful, Shae'Vana is brave. Other women are depicted one-dimensionally as "nosy," focused on appearance, etc. Greg advises Rowley to add Shae'Vana to his story so women readers don't get mad, but Rowley mainly uses her for romance plots. Race isn't mentioned, but characters are all light-skinned.
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Violence & Scariness
Fantasy violence in Rowley's story includes fights with weapons, the death of a giant mythical hand, ogres throwing rocks, and eagles trying to feed people to their young. Garg smashes statues that later turn out to have been people. Potentially scary conversations about Medusa wanting to turn Roland to stone, trolls eating pixies, parents passing away, etc. Roland thinks his mom has been kidnapped.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief mentions of romance between characters, hand-holding, and parents sleeping together in a bed. A mermaid wears a bikini top, a wizard is in his underwear, and boys are shirtless. A story is told about a leech "in an embarrassing place."
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Language includes "dumb," "sucker," and "crazy."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sherlock Holmes holds a pipe, but it's empty (with a joke about how book fairs won't sell the book if he's actually smoking).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure is the second spin-off book starring Rowley, Greg's gullibly sweet best friend from the Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Here, Rowley sets out to write a fantasy-adventure story, and each chapter progresses alongside Greg's meddling advice. In the end, Rowley shows integrity by following his own artistic vision, which includes writing a story with positive messages and compassionate characters. The adventure begins with main character Roland thinking his mom's been kidnapped. Fantasy violence includes fights with weapons, ogres throwing rocks, talk of trolls eating pixies, etc. There's less potty humor than in other books in the franchise: Expect a few fart jokes, a wizard in his underwear, a story about a leech "in an embarrassing place," and language like "dumb" and "sucker." Brief mentions of romance between characters include hand-holding, and Sherlock Holmes carries an empty pipe. Two elders are role models, but the book makes jokes about their disabilities. Women have minor roles, some with positive attributes and others depicted in one-dimensional ways.
Is It Any Good?
Although it's lacking some charm and sophistication, kids will get a kick out of seeing familiar characters from the Wimpy Kid series in this story's unique fantasy hodgepodge. In Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure, main character Rowley tries to write a fantasy story while his best friend Greg meddles and gives bad advice. Greg wants more characters than just Roland, so Rowley adds the muscled sidekick Garg, and then everyone from pixies and wizards to Sherlock Holmes. Greg wants more danger, so the nervous Rowley, who hates conflict, adds as little as he can get away with -- swords turn enemies good rather than kill them. And the whole time Greg is trying to "cash in" on book promotion ideas, product tie-ins, and whatever will bring in a teen audience (vampires and werewolves, of course).
Kids will likely fall into two camps: Those who root for Rowley to finish the story the way he wants, with good messages and compassionate characters, and those who root for Greg to make the story "cooler" and more marketable. Or maybe they'll root for them both. Kids can sometimes feel that they're more world-savvy, like Greg, and, deep down, still want to have a sweet imagination, like Rowley.
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.