Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth was written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. It was published in 2010 by Amulet Books.

Over the years, I have seen this books from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series being carried by students in the upper elementary school grades.  They have talked about how much they liked the books, how funny they were, and how goofy they thought Greg was, but I never really got it.  There was nothing like this series when I was a kid and my personal children aren't old enough to read this series yet, so I never really looked into it. Sadly, I think I was a book snob when it came to this series.  I like chapter books. Regular chapter books. I didn't think this had a place in the classroom. Now I wish I had.  I would have had more of these in my classroom.  I would have been shoving them into the hands of my avid readers and my reluctant readers, because I believe that everyone in the classroom, in some way or another, would be able to relate to this book. It is such an easy read, that even the students who have reading difficulties could find success with this book. Half of the page is taken by simple pictures, depicting the antics Greg and his family and friends are doing, while the other half is a 'handwritten' journal entry. Kids would be able to fly through this book, and realize, that they do have the power to read a lot in one day. They have the power to realize that Greg is not so different than they are and that they can relate to the challenges he has, the stunts that he pulls and the fights that he has with his family and friends.  

Greg is a typical middle-school boy.  He is not too popular, not the best student, not all that athletic. He doesn't have many friends, although he thinks he is better than the friends he does have.  He has an older brother that picks on him and makes him do his chores, and a younger brother that is babied, and annoys him on a regular basis. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth Greg begins by telling us that he is no longer friends with his long time best friend, Rowley. He talked about how Rowley wasn't good enough for him anymore and needed to find a replacement best friend.  This made me think that "The Ugly Truth" of this book was showing how awful Greg had treated Rowley.  I was not correct about that -- "The Ugly Truth" was just the truth of a middle child middle-schooler who was struggling to figure out how to get through life on easy street. Although there are many, many events he discusses in the diary, there is a logical time sequence and he references several events many times throughout the book.

One of my favorite stories that he goes back to in his diary is worrying about having "the talk" with Grandma at his uncle's wedding.  He knows he has gotten to the age of "the talk" and is completely embarrassed that this older woman is going to sit him down and talk about so many personal things.  In the end, it wasn't quite as embarrassing as it could have been, and he got out if it unscathed.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and had to have any type of talk with a parent or other family member.  I'm a pretty closed off person, so I never liked to have the big talks with people.  I understood his embarrassment, and possible fear of sitting down with his grandma. Like him, I knew the talks weren't the end of the world, but it was definitely not something I was looking forward to!

At the end of the book, Greg does makes with Rowley.  Greg says that he  might as well be friends with Rowley, at least until high school, because he looks like he is going to be pretty big and he can stick up for Greg if someone bullies him.  I'm not a huge fan of the reasons behind Greg's friendship with Rowley.  I think that he is a bad friend, and I realize this is a fiction story, but I feel as though it can give students who read it the idea that treating a friend like this is okay.  That part of the book is my only complaint about this book.  I want to make sure that the students in my class, and my school, are good to each other, and I don't like that it shows Greg as a selfish friend who is only out to help himself.  When I talk to kids who read this book, that is something I would definitely talk about and see how they feel about Greg's friendship with Rowley and if they agree with the way Greg acts. 

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