Book review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck - Jeff Kinney
Friendship, onesies and microwave burritos! Wimpy Kid goes from strength to strength
Children's books Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck Jeff Kinney Puffin, €12.99, hbk. Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350
Jeff Kinney is a household name thanks to his hugely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. There are more than 115 million books in print, it has inspired a successful movie franchise and now the latest is in the Irish bestsellers.
Kinney's new book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, will be on every child's wish list this Christmas and for good reason. It's a knockout blend of slapstick humour, family drama and middle-school social observation, narrated by the wonderfully self-absorbed main character, Greg Heffley. At the beginning of Hard Luck, Greg's best buddy, Rowley, has a new girlfriend called Abigail. Greg is horrified at the change in his friend. "It's like Rowley doesn't even have his own opinions anymore," he says. "I just don't get how you can go from someone's best friend to getting kicked to the kerb."
Humiliated and lonely, Greg tries hanging out with Fregley instead, a boy with no social graces whose party trick is a dancing belly button. Predictably, it does not end well.
Next he becomes the Yearbook Club's photographer (a choice made with the help of his trusty Magic 8 Ball) but when Rowley and Abigail are voted 'Cutest Couple in School' and Greg's job is to capture their cute lovey-dovey antics on film, he decides he's had enough. But who will be his friend now?
Hard Luck is packed with laugh-out-loud scenes. Greg wears a body blanket to school under his uniform and when the zip jams, he worries that he's going to "get baked alive like a microwave burrito".
He discovers his mum's secret hoard of child psychology books and uses his new-found knowledge to get one up on her. Greg's aunts go crazy at Christmas, accusing each other of stealing their dead mother's wedding ring. All are hilarious and cleverly reflect children's real experiences. What child hasn't witnessed at least one family argument over the festive season or begged to wear a onesie to school?
The scenes where Greg struggles in school without a friend are poignantly written. Most children fall out with their best friends at some stage and Greg's predicament will resonate with all children (and their parents).
Kinney is a born cartoonist and his brilliant illustrations make the Wimpy Kid books perfect for younger readers of seven or eight and also older, reluctant readers.
Hard Luck is one of the funniest books I've read all year and the good news is that there are plenty more Greg Heffley adventures to come. Long live the Wimpy Kid!
Author Jeff Kinney brings his Hard Luck tour to Dublin's RDS on Saturday, December 8.