The first thing I need to point out here is that I’m not a ten-year-old boy, which perhaps on one level explains why I didn’t enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid. That said, I frequently exhibit the mentality of a ten-year-old, and more often than not I love reading books for kids. Given the hype around the Wimpy series, I’m really surprised I didn’t enjoy this.
Back when I was a bookseller, this was our go-to title for parents coming in asking what they could get for ‘the boy who won’t read’. If I had my bookselling time again, I’d actually be far more likely to direct parents away from this series rather than towards it. And no, for the record, I’m not one of those psycho mums who would ever consider forbidding a child to read something they want to read, but I’d definitely be doing my best to divert them in this case.
The content here is extremely flimsy, the protagonist is what we would term ’round our way “a little sh*t”, the vocabulary is painfully basic and the grammar is, in places, atrocious. The pictures are cool though.
If the cartoon element here really is the big draw (heh), then vocabulary-wise children would probably be a lot better off going with some carefully chosen graphic novels rather than these flyaway reads . IMHO, of course. I wanted to make sure I was being fair, because I really, really hated the first one and maybe I’d just been having an off day when I read it. So I had a read of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw which, if anything, was even flimsier. And Greg is truly the most unlikable little soul, usually I’m all for naughty kids, but he’s completely lacking in redeeming features of any sort. There’s no clever naughtiness, or cheeky playfulness, or…anything. I’m not sure why he’s referred to as a ‘wimpy kid’ and not just a ‘bloody annoying, whiny kid’, because there’s a huge difference.
If you‘re looking for novels in a similar format, Tim Collins’ ‘Diary of a Wimpy Vampire‘ books have a lot more to offer, language-wise, and Nigel is a massively less unpleasant lead who can, I think, teach kids a fair bit more that’s of actual use, even though he’s undead!
Books that will get reluctant readers reading are great. I’m 100% behind them. The problem I have with Wimpy Kid, is that I just don’t see where there’ll go from here, or what they’ll get from the experience. It’s not something I’d recommend personally, although it’s better to see kids reading this than reading nothing!