Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a 2007 children’s illustrated novel by Jeff Kinney, and the first in the eponymous series. Greg Heffley, an awkward seventh grader, struggles to adapt to middle school and life in general. The book is presented as his journal.

Kinney’s illustrations, which appear on just about every page, are what make the book work. The characters are barely more than stick figures, but each is distinctly distinguishable from the rest. The pictures flesh out the book to a necessary degree, and contain much of the book’s humor.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is never particularly funny, although it’s just about always amusing enough to keep the pages turning. The book’s appeal to kids and adults comes primarily from its easy relatability. Just about everyone has experienced some of the awkward family, school and adolescent moments that Greg has.

Much has been made of how Diary of a Wimpy Kid is “realistic fiction.” And at its most realistic, the book is quite enjoyable. Yet Kinney often stretches beyond what could conceivably called realism in repeated attempts to make scenes funnier. This typically has the opposite effect – events are obviously contrived, the reader can no longer relate, and in these moments, the book falls flat (although this probably won’t bother kids much). In any event, the book is such a fast, disposable read that its flaws don’t matter a whole lot.

On the whole, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is mildly amusing for both kids and adults, and it’s something most anyone can relate to, at least a little bit.