Sneak a peek into Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Greg won’t mind.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney; published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 2007; 217 pages.

Greg Heffley is about 52nd or 53rd in line for most popular at his middle school.  The thought of a meteoric rise to the top spot affects nearly every decision Greg makes.  Inevitably, all his endeavors backfire, usually with his best friend Rowley Jefferson benefiting in the popularity department.  Lucky for us, his mom buys him a diary—uh, journal; sorry, Greg—to record his escapades.  Between his naïve descriptions of misapprehended plots for popularity and the cartoons that are worth-a-thousand-words, readers will be kept in stitches.  Middle school readers will identify with Greg’s problems.

This book artfully combines text and illustrations to tell the often humorous tales of this middle-schooler.  It has been off the shelves in the elementary library where I work since we added it to the collection.  Whenever Book Fair rolls around, the “Wimpy Kid” series are the hottest sellers among the fourth and fifth graders.  However, it is typically the fifth graders that check it out—especially as the end of the year rolls around and middle school looms across the summer.  I love its humor and lessons in coping, but most of all, I am grateful for another author that glamorizes journaling. 

This book won the 2008 Buckeye Children’s Book Award for grades 3-5.  It’s popularity among younger teens can’t be denied.   Another interesting fact to share with tweens is that author Jeff Kinney is the creator of, a popular tween website that is part virtual world and part gaming paradise for the younger set (ages 8-15).

5P     4Q     Grades 5-8

Diary_of_a_wimpy_kidCover Art: The title alone is enough to get the attention of preteens and tweens.  The art and description (“a novel in cartoons”) will be irresistible to this group:  a taped on piece of notebook paper with a backpacked, sad sack drawing of a kid; the obvious formally embossed “diary” from the cover of a journal; and the hastily added blue and white “of a Wimpy Kid” are all descriptive of the contents of the book. 

From Reading List:  Teens Top Ten


Skulduggery Pleasant will rattle your bones

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy; published by HarperCollins, Ney York, 2007; 391 pages.

Get ready for a ghastly good time!  Derek Landy’s story of good-guy detective Skulduggery Pleasant will rattle your bones with laughter and spine-tingling adventure.  This well-balanced story combines humor and horror to tell a tale of myth, magic and mortality.  Stephanie Edgely’s uncle has died, a seemingly natural death for a mortal, and has left her the bulk of his fortune: a beautiful home, a wealth of royalties from his best-selling books, and a menacing secret.  His long-time friend, Skulduggery Pleasant, befriends Stephanie, involving her in the ethereal world of magic and menace that lies just behind the façade of normal human life.  Together they take on the forces of evil that are attempting to take over the world once again.  Although only 12 years old, we discover that Stephanie might be one of the Ancients, and she proves herself a worthy partner for Skulduggery as they defeat the megalomaniacal Nefarian Serpine and his otherworldly army.

For lovers of Ohio’s own R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, this book offers a natural transition to stories with better developed plots and characters.  Of course the heroine in the story, Stephanie, is fleshed out, but Landy surprises us by fully developing the character of the skeletal detective, Skulduggery Pleasant.  Reluctant readers, no matter their gender, will find the story easy to read and quite engrossing.

For me, the character’s aliases, like Nefarian Serpine, Sagacious Tome, Ghastly Bespoke, and Stephanie’s alias, Valkyrie Cain, were a highlight of the story.  Of course, given my future line of work, I was quite pleased that the exquisitely beautiful China Sorrows is a librarian.  I envision a book club in a middle school library in which the School Library Media Specialist asks the group what these names might mean and what name each student would select as his or her alias.  Or maybe we plan the cast of the movie version.  My bones rattle with suppressed giggles as I think of their answers….

4P     3Q     Grades 6-8

skulduggeryCover Art: Ghastly green, Halloween-ish title on a background with a graphic novel feel, this cover will appeal to most middle schoolers, especially the R.L. Stine fans.  The green text really stands out on the spine.  My daughter begged me to finish quickly so she could read it simply based on the cover art; when she read the jacket summary, she was even more impatient.

 From Reading List: “On the Edge of Your Seat (Mystery, Suspense, or Thriller)”

RSS Braingle’s Teasers

  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Jun 18, 2019)
    The Last Stand General Custer is surrounded by Indians and he's the only cowboy left. He finds an old lamp in front of him and rubs it. Out pops a genie. The genie grants Custer one wish, with a catch. He says, "Whatever you wish for, each Indian will get two of the same thing." Custer ponders a while and thinks:"If I get a bow and arrow […]