Binge Reading the Wimpy Kid series

 

I decided since nearly every review would be nearly the same, I’d save us all some time and just write about the last 6 books in one post.  Instead of writing about each book individually, I’ll just write the 5 things I enjoyed most about this series as a whole.

  1. They are FUNNY!  There were several parts of each book where I was actually laughing out loud at Greg’s antics.  I found myself taking pictures of the pages and sending them to my friend to convince her to read the series.  I appreciate any book written for children that can entertain me the way this series did.
  2. The illustrations add to the humor, story, and readability of this book.  Some of the illustrations go along with what is happening in the story, while others provide a little extra humor.  I also like the way Kinney is consistent with his illustrations of characters.
  3. Greg, despite being egocentric (typical middle schooler), is likable (or even lovable).  You want him to come out on top, even though he is clearly the sand in a teacher’s or parent’s bathing suit.  He manipulates people and situations to get his own way, but that makes him believable and relatable as a character.  I remember doing the same things when I was his age.
  4. They are fast reads.  I’d say each book took me no more than 2 hours tops, although I never got to sit down and read one beginning to end.  Some books took several days due to the holidays and my own children.  If my students are looking for a fast read, these are great recommendations, because they are also very engaging.
  5. The AR level is in the fifth grade range.  I’m not HUGE on reading level, because I think students should read for enjoyment, and book level often limits their choices.  However, it is a bonus that there are inferences to be made and higher level vocabulary in these books.  There are also moral dilemmas that students would have to think about in order to relate to the story.

I think it goes without saying that I enjoyed the series, and I do take back my snobbery.  I didn’t think this series had as much to offer, but I am now eating my words!  I recommend it to students, but I also think any adult who can relate to children would also enjoy it.

 

Cabin Fever Book 26 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

The Third Wheel Book 27 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Hard Luck Book 28 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

The Long Haul Book 29 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Old School Book 30 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Double Down Book 31 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

 

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (paperback)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.2, 3 points

 

Since this is the fourth book in the series, I won’t bother with “what I liked” and “what I didn’t like” other than it wasn’t my favorite, but I did appreciate the semi-lesson at the end.  Greg realized he and his dad have a decent relationship and they don’t have to agree on everything.  I also like the way he reflected on his mom’s photo album: “the person who takes the pictures is the one who gets to tell the story.”  This is a great example for my young writers during Writers Workshop and their personal narratives, or even the autobiographies I make them write each year.

Book 23 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (hardcover)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.4, 3 points

 

Of the 3 Wimpy Kid books I’ve read, The Last Straw may be my favorite so far.  Greg decides to help others with their New Year’s resolutions since he is already near perfect and sees nothing to work on himself.  I’m sure you can see how that goes.  He also makes a decision about Holly Hills, gets  himself into some more shenanigans involving soccer, his brothers, Rowley, and even military school.  Again, it doesn’t have the problem-solution plot line that most books I read have, but it is entertaining and made me literally laugh out loud several times.  I will say it again- I was wrong about this series.  While it may not have higher level vocabulary nor a complex plot, it is great for looking at voice and point of view, analyzing character (Greg), and author’s style.

What I liked about this book was the way Greg, while not someone I would want to be friends with or have in my class due to his ignorant self-seeking behavior (I say that in the most loving way), is intelligent and creative enough to get himself in and out of pickles, and keeps me laughing.  I’m regretting not reading with post-its (as I lecture my own students to do), because there were certain pages I actually wanted to quote, but now I can’t remember which ones.  I appreciate Greg’s creativity and I think my students could take a lesson from him.

What I didn’t like about this book… it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, but it was my favorite in the series so far, so I have no complaints.  🙂

Book 21 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (paperback)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.2, 3 points

As I wrote previously, I was cynical when it came to the Wimpy Kid books.  I didn’t think I’d enjoy them.  However, Rodrick Rules also had me laughing out loud as I read about Greg being pushed around by his older brother Rodrick.  Much of it seems like typical older brother-little brother antics (like making Greg clean up Rodrick’s mess after a party), some of it was just mean, like when Rodrick told everyone a secret about Greg.  Greg, of course, has it coming, because he is mean to his little brother Manny.  Greg continues to be completely clueless and self-centered, which is what makes the book funny.

What I liked about this book was the fact that it gets kids to read.  I have such a hard time getting certain students, especially boys, to read books outside of their comfort zone.  This series will get kids hooked, kind of like a gateway book.  😉

What I didn’t like about this book (and the series in general) is that there is no plot.  It is a book of various events and situations, but there’s no beginning-middle-end or problem-solution.  That’s okay, as long as you aren’t forced to summarize the book.

Book 18 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid (paperback)

by Jeff Kinney

AR Level 5.2, 3 points

 

This is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  I have heard about this series for the last 10 years (since it was published), but I officially got to meet Greg and his friends and family.  This is written in diary form, so instead of chapters, there are dates with different events that Greg experienced.  He gets himself into all kinds of trouble, but fails to see how he is responsible for any of the trouble.  He, like most middle school boys, thinks he can do no wrong.  However, the reader laughs at his antics and hopefully sees what he’s doing to sink himself.

What I like about this book was, well, let’s say I was definitely reluctant to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  It seemed like empty-headed silly boy humor that didn’t further one’s vocabulary or reading skills.  I realize it’s written at a 5.2, but I figured it was what I call a “gateway” book to get reluctant readers into reading.  If nothing else worked, give them Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Well, most of that is correct.  However, it isn’t so empty-headed.  It is really witty, and I found myself laughing out loud at several parts.

What I didn’t like was the way there wasn’t a solid problem or solution to the story.  It followed a diary pattern, not a conflict-resolution pattern.  However, I think that’s what grabs students to read it.  It isn’t your traditional book.

Book 15 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)