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The new anti-hero

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney (Puffin Books, $17.99)
Review by Ruth Brassington

wimypidIs the Wimpy Kid the most famous anti-hero of our children’s day? What happened to Superman/Clark Kent?

Neither comics nor novels, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books – this is the eighth – is a series lovingly created by self-confessedly failed newspaper cartoonist Jeff Kinney.

Perhaps because it was launched on my birthday in November, someone thought Hard Luck an appropriate present for me. Maybe being another year older was thought to be hard luck, but, as wimpy kid Greg Haffley says, just ask the Magic 8 Ball if you’re not sure of the answer. This useful fortune-telling device accompanies Greg through thick and thin – mainly thin, being Greg – as he tries to keep and make friends in middle school, answer test questions and walks to and from school dealing with problems all the way.

Some parents I know don’t allow the Wimpy Kid books in their homes, reasoning that the kid’s wimpiness and devious ways make for a poor role model. But if all books’ characters had to be role models, hundreds of books would have to be banned. I think we have to credit children with some understanding and judgement. The children I know exhibit none of Greg Heffley’s behaviours, any more than they exhibit the behaviours of “My Little Ponies”. Good readers over age seven years seem to enjoy the Wimpy Kid books – as do older, more reluctant readers – so this is another to add to their collection.