A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure is the second spin-off story starring Rowley, the gullibly sweet best friend of Greg, who most kids know from the blockbuster Wimpy Kid series. Rowley sets out to write a fantasy-adventure story, and we watch it progress with Greg's meddling input. In the end, Rowley sticks up for himself and follows his own artistic vision, which is a big step for him. Rowley fills his story with all kinds of characters: Sherlock Holmes, a mermaid, a werewolf/vampire, an elf, Medusa, trolls, pixies, dwarfs, ogres, wizards, and a centaur (though he's part cow, not horse), and himself as the hero, Roland. Roland's mother is kidnapped, and on his quest, there's a small amount of fantasy violence. Trolls throw rocks, eagles are shot with arrows, Medusa tries to turn people to stone, a hand character is engulfed in lava, another giant hand squishes people, and a wizard takes a sword to the chest but seems to be fine. Parents wondering about the level of potty humor will find less of it here than in other books in the franchise, just some fart jokes, a wizard in his undies, and a story about a leech "in an embarrassing place." There's a ton of humor about how Greg wants to sell and aggressively market Rowley's book, which will get kids thinking about all the tie-in merchandise they see out in the world. There are brief mentions of romance between characters, and Sherlock Holmes holds a pipe and does not smoke it (with a joke about how book fairs won't sell the book if he's actually smoking the pipe).
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What's the story?
In ROWLEY JEFFERSON'S AWESOME FRIENDLY ADVENTURE, Rowley sets out to write a fantasy story about a boy in the Middle Ages named Roland. Roland's mom is kidnapped, and he goes on a quest to save her from an evil wizard, even though he's scared. Rowley finishes the first chapter and shows it to his best friend Greg, who suggests a whole lot of changes and quite a few book marketing possibilities. So Rowley adds Greg as a bodybuilder sidekick character named Garg and introduces more fantasy characters and more danger, including a vampire to appeal to the teen girl audience. After every chapter, Greg's head reels with ideas of movie rights, action figures, and product tie-ins while Rowley tries to keep the story his own.
Is it any good?
Rowley writes a fantasy story while his best friend Greg (aka Wimpy Kid) meddles and causes some pretty funny results. Greg wants more characters, so Rowley adds him as the muscly sidekick Garg, and then he adds everyone from pixies and wizards to Sherlock Holmes. Greg also wants more danger in the story, so the nervous Rowley, who hates any kind of conflict, adds as little as he can get away with. Yes, there will be a sword (in a rock, not a stone), but it will turn enemies good, not kill them. And the whole time Greg's head is spinning with book promo ideas and product tie-ins and movie rights and which characters will bring in the teen audience (vampires and werewolves, of course).
Rowley's resulting story is a fantasy hodgepodge that kids will get a kick out of. Santa shows up eventually, after Roland rides to the castle on the back of a narwhal. Kids will likely fall into two camps when reading Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure: rooting for Rowley to finish the story his innocent way, full of messages and a mom that saves the day, OR rooting for Greg to make the story "cooler." Or maybe they'll root for them both in a way. The age kids devour the Wimpy Kid books is that tween age when kids feel like they are supposed to be savvier like Greg, but deep down they still have Rowley's sweet imagination. Kids will recognize themselves in both characters and have themselves an awesome adventure in the process.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Greg's obsession with marketing Rowley's book in Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure. What book series do you read that have lots of tie-in merchandise? Do you think authors think about marketing their books while they write them?
Families can also talk about conflict in stories. Greg's right that the story needs to have more conflict to make it more interesting. Characters need something to overcome. What kinds of stories do you like better: milder tales or ones that are full of danger?
If Rowley wrote another Awesome Friendly Adventure, would you read it? Would you read the story without Greg's wisecracking input?
- Author: Jeff Kinney
- Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: August 4, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 6, 2020
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