Greg’s mom buys him a diary—excuse me, I mean a journal—and he decides to write and draw cartoons of his everyday, middle school life. Greg loves his video games, is always getting into mischief, and he has to deal with his mean older brother, Rodrick, who is destined to humiliate him. Greg bullies around his friend Rowley and finds that he feels jealous and left out as Rowley begins to gain popularity in the tough middle school social scene. We watch as the boys scheme up a profit-making haunted house and roll the world’s biggest snowball to keep trespassers off of their neighborhood hills. A series for reluctant and lower-level readers, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is geared for fifth to eighth graders. Greg is a pretty unlikeable little dude who does mean things much like Eric Cartman in South Park. Whereas South Park has satire and highly intricate plots under the guise of an adult cartoon, Diary just seems to be a collection of random, nonessential moments in Greg’s day. I understand the appeal of the series and appreciate any titles that help school-aged children enjoy reading. However, this first book lacked plot and character development. Besides a few funny scenes, I found myself bored. I am not even sure if I should delve into the innate sexism. I get that Greg is a boy who wants to date girls but likes to rag on them too. Since when did girls and boys split for gym class where the boys wrestle while the girls do gymnastics? Why are the comics the girls write for the paper extremely stereotypical, their robots good for helping with lipstick, and their qualities named as being talkative but not intelligent? I get this might be funny to some, but I am not laughing. For what has been one of the most popular series at the library, I am extremely disappointed and borderline disgusted. With a movie coming out and the seemingly endless continuation of the series, I can only hope that the books get better. Maybe I missed the point.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1) by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, 2007)