Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. New York: Amulet Books, 2007.
Mom: Greg Hefley is the narrator and main character. If he went to your school, would you be friends?
Dude: We probably would because he’s usually a pretty cool dude, when he isn’t dorking out or taking advantage of his friends.
Mom: Rowley is the next most important character. How would you describe his relationship with Greg?
Dude: Greg mostly manipulates Rowley into doing all of the dirty work. At first, Rowley didn’t care much but then Greg pushed him too far, but I won’t ruin it for you.
Mom: Greg says middle school is the “dumbest idea ever invented” because kids like him have to go to school with “gorillas who need to shave twice a day.” Is it really as bad as that?
Dude: No. He doesn’t really get picked on that much at school. He gets bullied more by his older brother at home.
Mom: Middle Grade books are sometimes criticized for relying on gross-out humor. One gross-out element in this story, the “cheese touch,” totally cracked me up because it reminded me of all the superstitions we had when I was in school. What did you think about the disgusting stuff in this book? Was it the biggest source of humor?
Dude: The cheese touch is the main one, but there’s also Fregley’s booger.
Mom: Aside from school, Greg’s home is the other main setting. The family relationships with the three brothers reminded me of your best friend. What do you think?
Dude: Yep, the little brother’s always trying to get attention by doing weird things like whining that Greg’s trying to make him eat an orange-sized spider, which is of coarse not true. The older brother, Roderick, pulls pranks on Greg all the time. My friend’s big brother isn’t quite as mean as Roderick, though.
Mom: What do you think of Greg as a story-teller? How honest is he?
Dude: I think Greg exaggerates at times, but otherwise he probably tells the truth.
Mom: What do the pictures add to the book?
Dude: They make the characters more comical, and they give you a better idea of perspective, since Greg looks smaller than some of the other kids.
Mom: To me, plot was the weakest element of the story. There were lots of little complications, but no major problem for Greg to solve. The closest, maybe, was the trouble about the safety patrols. For me, usually a book has to have a big conflict to keep me reading, but not so with this book. I kept turning the pages anyway. Do you agree or disagree?
Dude: He didn’t face any big dangers, but I’d say another big conflict was with the Halloween teenagers. That had a little danger to it.
Mom: What do you think was the writer’s main point in the book?
Dude: Kids shouldn’t take advantage of their friends. Oh, and that Greg is very misunderstood.