Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly TruthDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth is Book 5 in the enormously popular (and funny) series by Jeff Kinney. Middle schooler Greg Hefley continues to relate, in words and cartoon drawings, the story of his life in middle school and at home. According to the author, "To me, the fifth book is the linchpin of the series. Since Greg Heffley is a cartoon character but also a literary character, I've always wondered if he should grow up or stay in a state of arrested development. This book answers that question once and for all." (quotation from ABRAMS news release, July 29, 2010).
While Greg's goofy escapades and his self-centered take on life continue to be funny, Greg is growing up and becoming more aware of the world. It's a very busy school year with lots of changes. Greg is going through puberty and getting advice from health class and lots of other places. His mother writes about puberty in her column for the local paper, which embarrasses Greg; she also gives him a book to read, What the Heck Just Happened to My Body?, but Greg wants no part of it. Even his grandmother gets in the act and he knows that the next time he sees her, she'll give him the dreaded "talk" just as she did his older brother.
It's not just Greg's body that's changing. Greg and his best friend Rowley had a big fight and are no longer friends. Greg's mother goes back to school and Greg and his brothers have to take on additional responsibilities, with sometimes hilarious results. Greg is interested in boy-girl parties now and upset when he has to turn down a party invitation from one of the popular older kids because he has to be in his Uncle Gary's wedding - and it's not even Uncle Gary's first or second wedding. The boy-girl middle school overnight lock-in is a disaster for a lot of reasons, including the fact that it is 90% boys and 10% girls and there is almost a one-to-one ratio of chaperones. Poor Greg. Through it all he soldiers on.
From caring for a raw egg for 24 hours as a health class introduction to parenting to Uncle Gary's wedding to dealing with the changes in the family's schedule when his mom goes back to work to coping without his best friend, Greg decides, "There's been a lot of change all of a sudden, and I really liked things the way they were BEFORE." By the end of the book, Greg realizes, "I guess I'm just not in a big rush to grow up right now."
However, Greg is changing. One of the biggest indicators of the change in Greg over this school year, has to do with his attitude toward his broken friendship with Rowley Jefferson. At the beginning of the school year (and the book), Greg writes that he and Rowley have had a big fight and Rowley is now his "ex-best friend." As far as Greg is concerned, it's up to Rowley to do something to repair the friendship, and if Rowley doesn't, that's it; the friendship is over. By the end of the book, Greg writes, "I decided it was time for me and Rowley to put the past couple of months behind us and get our friendship back on track. Me and him have a long history together, and there's no point in throwing that away over something dumb." Greg is the one to do that by going over to Rowley's house, something he wouldn't have thought of doing earlier. While he is definitely still not a role model for anyone, Greg is growing up.
The Wimpy Kid Book Series and Other Wimpy Kid BooksThe books in the Wimpy Kid series include: Diary of a Wimpy Kid(2007), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2008), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (2009), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2009). In addition, Jeff Kinney has also written and illustrated two Wimpy Kid-related books: Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (2007), and The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary (2010). Click on each of the titles above to read my book reviews. Read my Diary of a Wimpy Kid feature article for a brief overview of all of the Wimpy Kid books.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series: Its PopularityThe Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has been enormously popular since the publication of the first book in the Wimpy Kid series in 2007 by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams. According to the publisher, “More than 42 million Diary of a Wimpy Kid books will be in print in the United States and Canada as of November 9, 2010. The books have been sold in more than 37 countries in 35 languages around the world.” (Source: Source: 11/3/10 news release)
Wimpy Kid Author and Illustrator Jeff KinneyDespite his success with his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, Jeff Kinney continues to work full-time as a virtual world designer. While a student at the University of Maryland, Kinney had his own comic strip in the school newspaper. After college, he began writing Diary of a Wimpy Kid and putting it online in daily installments on FunBrain.com. Then, publisher Harry N. Abrams signed Kinney to a multi-book deal to create a Diary of a Wimpy Kid series for the Amulet Books imprint, and the books have been enormously popular with upper elementary and middle school readers. In fact, the 5 million copy first printing of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth is a testimony to the popularity of the Wimpy Kid series.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth: My RecommendationSeries fans will not be disappointed in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth. All the things they liked so much in Jeff Kinney's previous Diary of a Wimpy Kid books - the diary format, the illustrations, the humor and the "voice" of the main character - are all here in full force. Also here is a taste of change, which will make readers more anxious than ever for the next episode in Greg's life.
Like the other books in the series, I recommend Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth for tweens and younger teens, grades 4-8. If you have a reluctant reader in your family, I recommend the entire series; it has engaged the interest of many reluctant readers. As I've mentioned before, while it’s not necessary to read the books in the series in order to enjoy them, I recommend doing so to gain the maximum enjoyment out of each of the books. (Amulet Books, An Imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 2009. ISBN: 9780810970687)