When I first saw the book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” sitting in the kid section of our local Barnes and Noble I gazed at the title and assumed that somebody had written about my childhood. I was a pretty wimpy kid growing up. Still, it turns out that I was nothing like the main character Greg Heffley.
I’ve decided that this best selling series is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I’m always thrilled when a book series can capture the interest of young readers, in particular young male readers. There are thousands of kids who would rather plug themselves into a gameboy rather than crack open a book. So, I applaud author’s success. Also, I love the simple yet hilarious illustrations, supposedly crafted by the middle-school narrator.
On the other hand, I’m not crazy about that Wimpy Kid. He does a lot of thoughtless things. In particular, he’s a terrible friend to his supposed best buddy, Rowley. Greg Heffley spends most of the book series making lousy and often deceptive choices. True, he does get busted most of the time. But he is always sorry about being caught, not about his actions and their hurtful consequences.
Of course, there are lots of characters in literature who are lovable trouble makers. Huck Finn, Bart Simpson, the kids from that gross yet guffaw-inducing Captain Underpants. In all of these examples, the trouble-maker is either struggling against a greater evil — and Diary of a Wimpy Kid is no exception. The adversarial character is Rodrick, Greg’s cruel older brother. Rodrick is such a complete jerk, that Greg’s decisions, by comparison, seem much more reasonable, even compassionate by comparison.
So, long story short, the girls and I have been reading and enjoying these books. But at the end of each reading session, we talk about the serious mistakes the narrator makes. We discuss his character’s flaws, and we imagine how we would feel is our friend was that Wimpy Kid. We’ve all agreed he wouldn’t be our friend for very long!