Middle school marches ever onward and Greg Heffley is still caught in its wake. It’s been several weeks since he and his best friend Rowley “broke up” and the candidates for Rowley’s position are few and far between. On top of that there are family issues, puberty, fame, and girls to deal with. With all of that pressure, it’s no wonder that Greg year isn’t going so well!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
Ages 8-14; Grades 3-8
Amulet Books, November 2010, ISBN 978-0-8109-8491-2
224 pages, $13.95
The fifth installment of Kinney’s hit series is as funny and believable as the first four. His pitch perfect blend of prose and comic art brings middle school to life vividly, both for those readers about it enter it and for those who have long since exited with a sigh of relief. Kinney has a real knack for putting the mind of an early teenage boy down on paper and his stories will resonate as much with those the age of his character as they will with their parents. If your son or daughter is not quite the age of the characters in Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman’s comic strip Zits but you see them becoming those kids or if you’ve ever compared your family to that of the TV show “The Middle,” then you should pick up Kinney’s series.
Part of Kinney’s appeal is his deft blend of broad humor with just the right amount of realism. Greg and his family face problems because of the recession, miss-communication, and the conflicts that brothers like to force on one another. But Kinney can do subtle as well, such as when addressing issues like sex ed. It is never referred to as such and is so broadly taught that Greg and the other kids are a little confused by what exactly they’re supposed to be learning. Puberty is described with the keen eye of one who has lived through it and remembers that it wasn’t as much fun as some might lead you to believe.
Graphic novel hybrids are tricky books to create. There needs to be the right mix of prose with comic art. Too much of one or the other and the book feels weighted oddly. Kinney has got that balance down pat. His prose and his art need each other to be complete. His characters are just this side of stick figures and he uses just the right touches on them to build a simple, but effective scene. Nothing looks too babyish for readers who want to seem more mature, but nothing is too graphic for younger readers looking to read up. Readers will enjoy this one as much as the others and will eagerly await Greg’s next misadventures.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Amulet Books.