Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid (DOAWK) – Review

Diary of a Wimpy kid (DOAWK) is a series of graphic novels for children written and illustrated by American author, Jeff Kinney.

The books revolve around a boy named Greg Heffley – a 12 year old school going kid who keeps getting in trouble with almost everyone around him due to his antagonistic behavior.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid entails a typical middle-class American family of 5 with the main character, Greg narrating his day to day life in his personal diary.

 

As said above, Wimpy Kid series is a set of books (12 main and 6 supplementary books so far).

The author Jeff Kinney not only writes the content but also illustrates the story through his drawings.

These drawings are not sophisticated, colored images, in fact, they look like an advanced version of simple stick-man graphics drawn by a teenager but with greater details.

 

So from the story-telling to graphics Jeff Kinney has been able to develop and maintain a universe from the perspective of a kid who narrates the world as he sees it.

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid – History

Wimpy kid series was first revealed in the public when Jeff Kinney, in 2004,  released it on a website called, FunBrain. It was read astonishingly 20 million times. Those are really good numbers. Despite such warm reception, it took Jeff 3 more years to officially release its hardcover in 2007 and another 3 years for the Fox Studios to adapt it for the big screen. The movie with the same name, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is an adaptation of the very first book of the series,  was released back in 2010.

 

Genre

The genre of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid is satirical realistic fiction comedy.

 

Awards

Since its release, DOAWK has grabbed numerous awards and accolades including New York Times bestseller. It stayed on the top of the charts for 114 weeks. Other prestigious recognition include Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, Ala Notable Book etc.

 

DOAWK – Number of Books Sold

Till date, Jeff Kinney has manage to sell 150 millions copies of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This number alone speaks volume of its popularity.

 

Let’s Talk More About the Wimpy Kid Series…!

Gregg, soon-to-be a teenager (that’s what his age is in the first book, 11-12), studying in the middle school, but like any other typical boy, he’s lazy, schemes countless ways to run away from his responsibilities and does not miss any opportunity of shoving things under the carpet.

Living with a family of five, he does not get along very well with his elder brother, Rodrick Heffley, who has a grave knack for pranks and never misses any opportunity of playing fool out of Greg.

Moreover, our protagonist, Greg never understands the privileges his toddler baby boy enjoys in the house. He thinks that’s unfair as he always gets away with many things.

While the mother (Susan Heffley) wants to discipline Greg and his other sons, his father, Frank Heffley, has serious reservations with his kids for not being “man-enough” and not indulging in rather more “sporting” activities. He desperately wants them to be athletic and macho and never misses any opportunity to take them out for such activities. However, things always fall apart.

The only character with which Greg is comfortable is his childhood friend Freggley. The kid’s not so “bright” and due to his gullibility, Greg finds him easy to manipulate and therefore, he’s the silent partner-in-crime in most of Greg’s homemade adventures.

Adventures that eventually turn out to be mishaps.

The rest of the story is pretty typical. There are bullies, homework, school projects, home chores and many other day to day activities which Greg has to put up with and “survive”.

Above all, it is actually Greg’s sluggish and callous behavior which makes him the problem child in the house.

To some extent, Greg’s character resembles Jeff Kinney’s own childhood and that is why he’s conscious about how the character grows and projected overall in the book.

In fact, according to Jeff himself, he sometimes spends hours just to come up with a single joke and quite often, he spends around 17 hours behind illustrations. That’s the effort that goes in the book.  

 

What I Admire About the Wimpy Kid Series?

The best trait about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books is its simple tone and elementary jokes.

Jeff does not try to make Greg sound deep and philosophical (like Calvin and Hobbes). He is a teenage kid and he’s supposed to act like one. Period.

No unnecessary drama whatsoever.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes as well. It’s just that I’m a fan of the ability to create jokes from simpler day to day activities. I find it more relateable.

Besides, how many teenage boys do we see in our real life who have deep philosophical proclivities?

Second quality about the Wimpy Kid books is as I said above, Jeff does not just only write a story but also creates a whole ecosystem around it for the readers.

To keep up with the name, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff makes sure that the ambiance of reading a kid’s diary stays intact. This goes from the hardcover of the books to the font (which is made to look like hand written) and the drawings. In fact, to add an extra layer of reality, the words are typed in between the two lines. Imitating just just like a normal page from any copy.

Moreover, the universe created by Jeff isn’t an alternate reality where everything remains stagnant. Especially the ages of the characters. The characters grow older from one book to another. Greg  promotes from one standard to another. So despite being completely fictional, this is the feature from the real world that Jeff has borrowed and applied very well on his characters.

An Excerpt from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid

 

There’s a small problem though!

And the problem is that if the characters keep growing, a time would come that Greg won’t be a kid after all. Hence losing all the charm reading his journals.

So the Wimpy Kid series will inevitably needed to be put to an end then?

This is a million dollar question as Jeff Kinney once himself said.

I often debate whether to try and create something else or simply be happy with what I have. But I always feel that when a cartoonist retires their characters, it leaves a hole in people’s lives. I don’t want to bring them to an end unless I have good reason to do so. And I don’t, yet.

 

It will be worth watching how Jeff copes with the situation. However, for time being, it’s best not to think too ahead in the future.

So this is what I like most about the Wimpy Kid series. The overall aesthetics will make you believe for a moment that you’re indeed reading a diary of a (wimpy) kid.

 

Target Readers of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid

No doubt, the target readers of DOAWK are kids. Especially the preteens and teenagers but even as a grown up, I like to read this book.

This series takes you to your past and rekindles childhood memories.

So if you’re going to read this book to your kids before giving them goodnight kisses then that’s appreciable. However, you can also give yourself break and go through this book.

I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it a lot.

 

Book’s Difficulty

As I said, Jeff hasn’t over-complicated things in his book and since he indeed makes it look like a diary written by a kid. The text is fairly simple, content is easy to understand, sparring any unnecessary details. Greg is always to the point and does not waste his time dragging and unnecessarily jotting down his feelings or as some people say, “describing the sandwich”. Unless of course, absolutely necessary.

You can go through this book in just one sitting. So there’s not too much content. Perhaps the only downside of the book.

 

Recommendation?

I’d definitely recommend this book. In fact, I’d RECOMMEND in caps so that you have an idea how much I like the series.

I hope that you’d like it the same.

 

Happy Reading!

 

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