Kinney's popular Web comic, which began in 2004, makes its way to print as a laugh-out-loud "novel in cartoons," adapted from the series. Middle school student Greg Heffley takes readers through an academic year's worth of drama. Greg's mother forces him to keep a diary ("I know what it says on the cover, but when Mom went out to buy this thing I specifically told her to get one that didn't say 'diary' on it"), and in it he loosely recounts each day's events, interspersed with his comic illustrations. Kinney has a gift for believable preteen dialogue and narration (e.g., "Don't expect me to be all 'Dear Diary' this and 'Dear Diary' that"), and the illustrations serve as a hilarious counterpoint to Greg's often deadpan voice. The hero's utter obliviousness to his friends and family becomes a running joke. For instance, on Halloween, Greg and his best friend, Rowley, take refuge from some high school boys at Greg's grandmother's house; they taunt the bullies, who then T.P. her house. Greg's journal entry reads, "I do feel a little bad, because it looked like it was gonna take a long time to clean up. But on the bright side, Gramma is retired, so she probably didn't have anything planned for today anyway." Kinney ably skewers familiar aspects of junior high life, from dealing with the mysteries of what makes someone popular to the trauma of a "wrestling unit" in gym class. His print debut should keep readers in stitches, eagerly anticipating Greg's further adventures. Ages 8-13. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Chris Carlson
Even though Greg Heffley would rather play video games with his friend Rowley than write in the journal that his mother gives him, he uses it to record, in pictures and in text, the harrowing and clever ways in which he navigates the middle school social scene. Undersized and skinny, Greg has adventures that center on how he manages to separate himself from the geeks and how he evades bigger bullies by employing quick wit and harebrained ideas. Unfortunately Greg's schemes usually backfire, providing readers with the opportunity to delight in his distress. Picked on by an older brother, embarrassed by his baby brother, and closely monitored by his clever parents, Greg reacts in typical middle school fashion, making him a character with which many readers will be able to identify. Kinney provides readers with a realistic view of middle school life as seen through the eyes of the entertaining but not very bright class clown. Readers can expect lots of middle school humor and exaggeration. Kinney manages to inject enough humor in the simple drawings to make them an integral element in the book. Because Kinney began his Wimpy Kid adventures on a Web site, many middle schoolers already familiar with the character will ensure a ready audience for this print version.