Kids love ‘Wimpy Kid’ books with mix of text, art

  • By Karen MacPherson Scripps Howard News Service
  • Monday, November 2, 2009 12:01am
  • Life

Greg Heffley is a hybrid, and his millions of young fans love it that way.

For those who haven’t yet met Greg, he’s the hapless star of the best-selling series for kids “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney.

Nothing is easy for Greg, a middle-school student with a large ego, a small brain and a nose for trouble.

Narrated in a comically deadpan tone by Greg himself, the “Wimpy Kid” books hilariously depict tween life, from the doomed efforts to impress girls to the half-witted pranks that boomerang.

Greg’s misadventures are laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s another reason millions of kids love these books: they’re “hybrids,” half-text and half-illustrations. With the skyrocketing popularity of graphic novels among kids, it’s no wonder that kids love Kinney’s books.

The “Wimpy Kid” books actually offer insightful humor that can even be sophisticated at times. Adults who read these books — and they should, if they’re parents — will discover some important, if sometimes troubling, insights about the way many adolescents approach life as spotlighted in Greg’s lazy, ethically challenged persona.

Above all else, however, the books are funny, and Kinney’s comic brilliance continues to shine in the just-published fourth volume in the series, “Dog Days” ($13.95).

As the book opens, summer vacation has just begun and Greg is looking forward to days in front of the TV “playing video games with the curtains closed and the lights turned off.”

Of course, his mother has other ideas, such as an all-boy “Reading Is Fun” club. Greg’s mother is hoping to get the boys to read “classics” like “Little Women” and “Old Yeller.” The boys, however, prefer books like “Ultimate Video Game Cheats” and “X-Treme Pop-Up Sharks.”

As Greg says: “I’m not really sure what makes a book a ‘classic’ to begin with, but I think it has to be at least 50 years old and some person or animal has to die at the end.”

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