WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Type: Comic, Contemporary, Preteen, School
Basic Plot: Greg Heffley is like the average American preteen, and lives an average life. He writes about his supposedly lame and unfair life in a journal his mom bought for him.
Plot: 3/5 Average: I think the plot is a little cliché, and not to unusual in comparison to something in any other book of this type. It had situations that could easily be seen happening in real life, like a bunch of bad childhood experiences happening to one person and all at once.
Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: Though the plot and graphics aren’t really special, the book is very funny. It has a lot of those situations we remember having as children that were embarrassing, seemingly not fair, and annoying at the moment. The entries were not as realistic in the sense that there were not very many per month and that there was no date ever except for what day of the week it was. I understand partially why as the first would require a lot more content and to do the seconf would be difficult to name a date as it is modern time.
Graphics 2/5 Below Average: Just fancy stick figure drawings. They are drawn orderly, though, and the graphics do change according to which person is drawing. (It shows comics from different characters, so there are a few drawing styles.)
Moral: -2/5 A Bad Influence: This book is beyond not having any good moral or moral at all, it has a pretty bad one. Greg is a bad role model. He is that kid in the neighborhood that a parent really doesn’t want their kids to hang around because that friend has an attitude problem. Gregory never thinks problems in his life are his fault and often has friendship troubles because of this, and his reaction is to blame his circumstances and punishments on others even more. He suffers a little from his actions in the novel, but he never truly learns anything and sometimes even gets what he lost back to a degree from lucky circumstances. This book’s moral will only encourage the sassy attitude and disrespect that teenagers and preteens might already have.
Overall: 3/5 Average: I think diary of a wimpy kid is not as extraordinary as it is portrayed. The things that are most attractable about the book were the humor and that preteens can understand Greg. I think if a book of this type is done (as I have seen other books of juvenile humor) this is a good way to do it, but the book was not useful in any way and there no real purpose to the book except to get a good laugh. Now if it had had no moral really at all and was only entertainment, that would not have been so bad, but instead it had a negative moral, that teaches having a self centered attitude is normal and natural, which is one of the reasons I gave this book an only average review.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 1/5 Slightly Inappropriate: A little kid brings a picture of a woman in a bikini to show and tell. The picture isn’t shown. “Hot” is used to describe some girls once. Greg says one of the things you have to have to get anyone to like you is “a cute butt.” There are pictures of boys shirtless. Greg thinks his clothes in gym are starting to slip off once.
Violence: 2½/5 An Average Amount of Light Violence: There are a lot of pictures of kids pushing each other, and there is one picture of kids getting smacked with a backpack. There is a picture of a boy punching Greg. Greg gives his friend “noogies” for using terms he thought were to childish. Greg tricks his friend and is able to smack his face against his head. Some kids throw apples at a girl, and there is a movie that shows trees doing it. For gym the boys have wrestling for a certain time. There is a picture if Greg kicking his brother’s toys. He mentions that often his Dad will throw whatever he conveniently has available when he sees Greg misbehaving. Greg pinches his friend. Greg hits his friend with a football while his friend is riding on a three wheeler and his friend falls and breaks his hand. Some kids throw snowballs at them, and there is a time when they imagine making a huge snowball and pushing it on the kids. Greg later throws a snowball at his friend. There is also a picture of them being smashed by a snowball taken from a distance. Greg and his friend get in a time when they start pushing each other. Greg thinks “Twisted Wizards” is a violent video game, and he also has several video games with violence that is not shown or talked about in detail. A comic talks about a mom that “slipped on a banana peel” and died. There is a comic of a stickman getting beheaded. Greg imagines and there is a picture of him putting a tack on the teacher’s chair. Some kids want Greg and his friend to get in a fight, but they don’t.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1 ½/5 A Little Misuse: “Gee” is used twice and “gosh” once. When the students have a school project to make up what a robot they invented would be like they decide to make a talking one and make a list of bad words that the robot can’t say when told to. None of these words are shown.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 Very Light Gore: Greg and his friend plan out a haunted house with blood, sharks, knives, etc. It doesn’t even get close to what they plan, though. There is a comic of a stick figure who gets his head cut off. Greg’s friend draws a comic with a man who steps in “an acid puddle,” and it shows his bone.
Religious Issues: 1½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Greg celebrates Halloween and goes trick or treating as well as to a haunted house. They decide to make their own haunted house with lots of things such as blood and skulls (which obviously doesn’t work out the way they plan.) His teacher writes a song for the play called “We Three Trees” which is probably a parody of “We Three Kings.” Greg’s older brother wants a shrunken head for Christmas.
Magic: 1/5 Some References: The game Greg asks for Christmas is called, “Twisted Wizards.” Greg goes to a haunted house with things like vampires, headless people, and there is a picture of a man with his head on a plate. The play they act in is the “Wizard of Oz” and there are mentions of the witches, one being “good.” Greg describes his friend’s attempts to look like he’s fighting “prancing around like a leprechaun.” When Greg is wondering is wondering if his friend will be stronger than him, he calls his friend’s karate lessons “hocus pocus.”
Others: Greg’s brother is in a rock band and has magazines related heavy metal and rock music. He also listens to “parental warning” CDs. Greg has many times when he tries to listen to them behind his parents back, and it always goes wrong. Greg also has times when he tries to break the rules that his friend’s parent set up. There are a lot of crude phrases and rude humor such as flattering a person described as “kissing… (their) butt.” The kids have an anti-smoking poster contest and the winner is a boy that Greg says smokes a lot. There is also a picture of an older teenager smoking. Greg’s mom is more dominant than I would prefer and almost always gets her way when arguing with her husband.
Overall: 1½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: This book is not recommended moral wise, though overall it must be admitted there was nothing obscene or indecent in the book. First because of the bad moral above that is mentioned. Second because of the disrespect Greg has toward other people and how his attitude seems focused mainly on himself, and only his own desires. This book also has a “Your Parents Are Dumb and Your Neighbor’s Evil” idea, with all the adults being shown to be not very intelligent. Now some of their actions do greatly reflect worldly adults and shows the irresponsibility adults can sometimes have, especially when they are far from God, but teenagers and children should not think all adults are complete idiots. There are a lot of smart, responsible adults, though there is truth in the fact that a lot of adults now are choosing to act juvenile these days. There aren’t any evil adults that are portrayed though. The problems with this book are mainly attitude problems and the way adults are portrayed.