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Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Last updated Friday, March 6, 2009

Author: Jeff Kinney
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0810993139
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2009

Synopsis: Starred Review. 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.

Note to readers:
•  Start at the beginning and try to get up to page 63 or 75, depending on time.
•  Vocabulary word(s): Phys-ed

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a diary?
•  What do you write in a diary?
•  Have you ever kept a diary?
•  Who is a wimp?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you have an older sibling? Do you get into trouble for getting into their stuff?
•  Are you embarrassed by your friends? Why?
•  Are there things you are not allowed to do at your house that you do elsewhere?
•  Can wimpy kids grow up to be strong? Can they be smart?
•  Is it better to be strong or smart?

Craft ideas:
•  Conversation HEARTS: Letters to the Troops and First Family. In response to President Obama's call to service and volunteerism, make valentines to send the Troops or any member of the First Family (President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Sasha, Malia). Have each student write their first name, school and grade on the back of their valentine. Turn the valentines into the Site Coordinators to be sent out following the reading clubs.
•  Braided ribbon bracelet. Take 3 different color ribbons and loosely measure it around your wrist. Add an additional inch then double the length. Cut the ribbon, so it is twice the length when measured around your wrist. Line the ribbons up and fold in half. At the folded end, make a single knot with room for a loop. This loop will be used like a buttonhole for the bracelet. After the knot, start to braid the ribbons together. Make sure to keep the same colors doubled up. To braid, line up the 3 ribbons and number them 1, 2, 3. Bring 3 in between 1 and 2. Then bring 1 between 3 and 2. And 2 between 3 and 1. Then, begin with 3 again and put it between 2 and 1. Then 1 between 2 and 3; 2 between 1 and 3. Continue with this pattern. When you get to the end of the ribbons, tie a secure single knot. Bracelet can now be worn on the wrist by inserting the knot into the loop a couple of times.
•  Mini bouquet. Take a tulle circle and fold in half. Use scissors and make a small snip in the center. Grab mini bouquet of roses and insert into middle of the tulle circle. Take parts of the tulle circle and pull it towards the bouquet, giving it a scrunched look. Do this all around the mini bouquet and fasten with a ribbon. Make sure to tie the ribbon tightly and it can be finished off with a simple bow
•  Make a cartoon strip of their favorite scene in the book; their favorite activity to do after school/weekends; their friends/family having fun. Cut a piece of paper “hot dog style”. Fold the piece of paper in half and in half again to form 4 separate squares for the comic strip. Use bubbles for the words.
•  Make a cartoon Valentine’s Day Card.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!