I knew when I joined the 75ers reading group on LibraryThing that I’d find lots of great book recommendations, but what I hadn’t expected was to find a group of avid readers who among a wide range of genres, also have a passion for children’s and young adult books. Of course, I jumped in at the deep end of the pool.
It might seem weird that I chose to listen to the audio version of what is described as ‘A novel in cartoons’, but when I found it on iTunes I couldn’t resist the voice of Ramon de Ocampo, who does a fantastic job with the narration. Our wimpy kid Greg is given a diary by his mother—even though he specifically asked for a journal and NOT a diary (don’t expect me to be all ‘dear diary’ this and ‘dear diary that’ he says in the beginning)—in which Greg recounts some highlights from his daily life, from his first day in middle school all through the academic year. Along the way he describes his home life, starting with Roderick his older brother who plays mean tricks on him like the time he woke Greg up in the middle of the night at the beginning of summer vacation and tricked him into believing he’d slept through the whole summer and had to hurry to get ready for the first day of school. Greg’s adventures are hilarious, and what makes them even funnier is the deadpan approach he takes to relating even the silliest stories that make him look very bad indeed. He’s obsessed with gaining any kind of recognition and is seemingly willing to try anything to reach his goal. When he decides to campaign for the class treasurer position, he creates a smear campaign against his opponent, and is dismayed when the principal takes down the hand drawn posters he’s worked hard at before anyone’s had a chance to see them, and then is even more upset to see said opponent handing out lollipops and eventually winning the coveted position. When he visits a haunted house just before Halloween, he decides that he and his friend Rowley can do a better job and make money in the process, so they advertise around the neighbourhood, then wait till the last-minute to throw together such features as a ‘river of blood’ (made from the contents of a bottle of ketchup) in Rowley’s basement without asking permission from the parents. On the night of Halloween, when they’re out trick-or-treating, the two of them hide out at Greg’s grandmother’s house after heckling some teenagers who are pursuing them, and when they find her house has been covered in toilet paper the next morning, Greg says it’s really ok since grandma has plenty of time to clean up now that she’s retired. One running gag that had me in stitches was Greg’s description of *The Cheese* which is a mouldy piece of cheese that has been left behind on the baseball court since the previous school year and which everyone goes out of their way to avoid. When further on in the story the teenagers decide to teach Greg and Rowley a lesson and make the boys eat *The Cheese*, Greg, like the real pal that he is, just watches his friend eat his half and then claims he’s allergic to milk products to avoid having to partake in it too. I really enjoyed this first book in the Wimpy Kid series, which had me literally laughing out loud.