Kinney, J. (2009). Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. New York: Amulet Books.
Okay, so here's my deal. Everyone around me has been in love with this series. They love how fast of a read it is, how the text and pictures lean upon each other to help the books redefine what a picturebook is, how some of the characters are drawn, how funny some of the situations are. And on and on.
I have to admit, much of this passion was lost on me for one simple reason. I don't think Greg is a wimpy kid. Yes, he is very skinny. And yes, he is very concerned with the way the other students perceive him. Yes, he often does worry about being bullied. But it seems to me, Greg does a lot of the bullying presented in the series. And by "a lot" I mean most.
Now, having said that, with each book the series has been growing on me more and more. The high point so far being The Last Straw with Greg describing how Shel Silverstein used to be the monster he feared at night. And can you blame him:
The reality is even scarier than Kinney's drawing. I wish I was there when photographer Jerry Yulsman took the photo. "Now smile, Shel. Now--wait, don't smile. Ummm. How would you feel about a wig? Makeup? Please don't eat me." A good time, I'm sure.
Again, this book picks up soon after Rodrick Rules ends, but could still manage as a stand-alone read. Picking up on New Year's Day, Greg has no problem keeping to his resolution of improving other people, but everyone else seems to be falling short of his expectations and their own.
Over the semester that this book covers, Greg must deal with a Valentine dance, soccer practice, joining the boy scouts and the threat of military school.
Activities to Do with the Book:
Since Greg describes the way that children's books are often constructed, readers could also write their own stories in response.
I feel that given an opportunity, a teacher should address the way Greg treats his best friend Rowley. How would students feel to have a friend treat them the way Rowley gets treated? Would they still be friends with Greg? Why? Why not?
And as with the rest of the series, if the book won't get kids writing in journals or diaries, I don't know what will.
"You know how you're supposed to come up with a list of "resolutions" at the beginning of the year to try to make yourself a better person?
Well, the problem is, it's not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I'm already pretty much one of the best people I know.
So this year my resolution is to try to help OTHER people improve" (p. 1).
"That's when Mom spoke up. She told Uncle Charlie she thought the Laundry Hoop was a GREAT idea.
Then she said that from now on I'd be doing my OWN laundry. So basically, it ends up that Uncle Charlie got me a chore for Christmas" (pp. 11-12).
"You know, if the school is going to take away our bus ride home, the least they can do is install a ski lift on our hill.
I've e-mailed the principal about five times with my suggestion, but I haven't heard anything back yet" (p. 46).
"Me and Rowley are both bachelors at the moment, but that's not gonna stop us from arriving in style.
I figured if me and Rowley scraped together some money in the next few days, we could rent a limo for the night. But when I called the limo company, the guy who answered the phone called me "Ma'am." So that pretty much blew any chance he had of getting MY business" (p. 87).
P.S. This looks to be about post 200. Rock out!